Mania Akbari reaches for the sublime with a dreamlike film that tries to join the dots between past and present.This is a deeply intimate, personal and moving work from the Iranian film-maker Mania Akbari, whose movies have often been meditations on beauty and body image. (As an actor, she is also known for starring in Abbas Kiarostami’s film Ten.) Akbari has made this in collaboration with her partner, the artist and sculptor Douglas White, and the result is a form of digressive-poetic cinema, connecting images and ideas in a dream-associative logic.
It is loosely structured around the idea of letters written between Akbari and White, alternating voiceovers as they muse on how what is happening to them to now relates to their family and childhood. Akbari speaks in (subtitled) Farsi on these occasions, but in English to everyone else. The film opens with material shot about five years ago: a very candid scene of Akbari being photographed in a hospital suite after a double mastectomy; as the months and years go by, she will prepare not merely for reconstructive surgery but for her ovaries to be removed to pre-empt a recurrence of cancer, and also to have IVF treatment.