New Year/New Restorations
Chess of the Wind (Shatranj-e baad)
Directed by Mohammad Reza Aslani
$12 / $8 Speed members
“Aslani’s vision is still breathtakingly distinctive, an incisively devastating social critique embedded in a complex tale of intrigue, greed, oppression, and murder.”—Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com
Screened publicly just once before it was banned and then lost for decades, this rediscovered jewel of Iranian cinema reemerges to take its place as one of the most singular and astonishing works of the country’s pre-revolution New Wave.
A hypnotically stylized murder mystery awash in shivery period atmosphere, Chess of the Wind unfolds in an ornate, candlelit mansion where a web of avarice, violence, and betrayal ensnares the heirs to a family fortune as they vie for control of their recently deceased matriarch’s estate.
Melding the influences of European modernism, gothic horror, and classical Persian art, director Mohammad Reza Aslani crafts an exquisitely controlled mood piece that erupts in a stunningly subversive final act in which class conventions, gender roles, and even time itself are upended with shocking ferocity.
The film was banned in the period leading up to the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the late 1970s. Thought to be lost, the film’s negative turned up at a junk shop and now has been restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. 1976, Iran, DCP, in Farsi with English subtitles, 93 minutes. Recommended for 17+.