AKA It's Winter
Optional English & Portuguese Subtitles
Rafi Pitts' Zemestan, or It's Winter, is an austerely beautiful parable about men and their painfully conflicted view of themselves: a wintry tale that calmly occupies its own poetic time and space, and has an enigma at its core with something of the Martin Guerre myth.
The movie is about men's need to promote their status and self-esteem through work, and to enforce the privilege of manhood over the submissive and all but silent children and womenfolk in their household. This need to labour and accumulate worldly prestige, a need not to be shamed in the eyes of other men, is at odds with a terrible yearning to be free, to walk the open roads; it's a counter-need generating a mood which covers the movie's landscape like a swirl of snow: loneliness. This is a deeply considered and wonderfully composed film, which reminded me in many ways, not merely of other Iranian directors like Abolfazl Jalili or Jafar Panahi, but the Turkish film-maker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and his melancholy tale Uzak, or Distant. It also appears to be informed by a complex and opaque kind of sexual politics, the workings of which ask tough questions of a western observer attempting to formulate a response - of which, more in a moment.