Film run-time: 14 minutes | Starring Behtash Fazlali, Panthea Vatandoost, Soheila Vatandoost
Written and Directed by Alexander Farah, Produced by Alireza Taale, Cinematography by Kenneth Lau
“Sahar“, a 2014 short film by Alexander Farah, is a domestic drama dealing with the difficulties of a family in flux, built on a perceived cultural divide and the lifestyle differences between two siblings. Nadim, an industrious student who obeys his parents’ wishes, is a striking contrast to his sister, Sahar, who has stolen money from him to socialize late into the night. When Sahar fails to return home by curfew one evening, pandemonium erupts.
Central to the narrative of “Sahar” is a notion of miscommunication: whether embodied by the silent phone calls that the household is plagued with, the parental strife over responsibility, or in the troubled conversation between father and daughter, there is an element of misunderstanding between various parties. While Sahar is confident that her Western lifestyle is merely a reflection of the freedoms afforded to her by a liberal country, her parents are convinced that these choices are corroding her spirit and well-being.
Corollary to these concerns is a wider miscommunication of intent, burdened by a cultural bias, when Sahar expressly references Afghanistan and Iran. While interpretive as an imprint of her parents’ upbringing in conservative countries that regulate social behaviour more rigidly, it is evident in their psychology that the anxiety over her lifestyle is not one specifically arising from a difference in tradition. It is a universal agony, a parental dismay, over the deleteriousness of her youthful abandon.
Subsuming the smaller dialogue of miscommunication is a larger possibility of misinterpretation, once again informed by the subtle touch of an adjudged cultural distinction. When Sahar disappears after being kicked out by her father, Nadim is interrogated by the police about the incident. Although very likely procedural, there could also be an inference of suspicion that recalls the domestic violence which has befallen some who have emigrated from more restrictive countries. Illustrating the baggage that distinguishes those with a diverse heritage, “Sahar” is a fine portrait of the schism in perception, from both sides.