Film Archive

Jahr

Presence

Documentary Film
Iran
2013
18 minutes
subtitles: 
_without dialogue / subtitles

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hossein Rasti
Hossein Rasti
Hossein Rasti
Hossein Rasti
Mosoud Asadi
Men flagellating themselves until blood flows, ecstatic moaning and masses of people overwhelmed by grief … Every year on the Day of Ashura, Shia Islam commemorates the death of the third Imam in the battle of Kerbela. The martial images of this procession shape our ideas of a religion whose history and present day are marked by repression and suffering.
Hossein Rasti, too, opens with this ritual but in a surprising twist turns to look at its secular side. There’s cooking and eating going on here. In a multi-purpose hall hastily converted into a sacred place, a host of cooks feed 5,000 believers with a traditional lamb stew. Rasti cuts from the mourners’ tears to those of the man who has to chop a mountain of onions. Hectolitres of soup are being prepared in huge, bubbling pots (if hell should exist, this is how it must look), ladled out at lightning speed and skilfully slapped in front of the rows of seated believers. Their orderly withdrawal is managed with the same routine.
Blood, meat, and bread – archaic symbols, which a skilful montage strips of their religious aura without damaging it. This powerful (and brave) miniature shows that a community of faith can also be defined in earthly terms.
Grit Lemke