Donna Honarpisheh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program in Critical Theory at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on modernist Iranian film and fiction.
Leila Hatami, Niki Karimi, Taraneh Alidoosti, Juliette Binoche,
A film about watching and most of all experiencing film, Shirin features close-ups of 112 Iranian actresses (and Juliette Binoche) as they sit, transfixed, watching an adaptation of a famed twelfth-century Iranian epic poem. Or so it seems; the soundtrack they respond to, all galloping hooves, clashing swords, and declarations of love, was created by Kiarostami, but the “film” it evokes does not exist. A sly riposte to those who wanted more “action” and plot in Kiarostami’s films, Shirin delivers narrative, albeit entirely offscreen. But its focus lies in the eyes and mind, on how cinema is constructed, and how we as viewers construct cinema.