REVIEW: Parvaneh [2012]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 25 minutes | Release Date: 2012 (Switzerland)
Studio: Zurich University of Arts, Departement Film
Director(s): Talkhon Hamzavi
Writer(s): Talkhon Hamzavi

“Sorry, can you help send money?”

The human condition is on display in Talkhon Hamzavi‘s Parvaneh. Or at least a very optimistic view of what it could and should be whether it takes a little while to get there or not. We like to think there is a universal concept of goodness in us all, but the truth skews closer to selfishness and greed despite the hardships of those we’re willing to take advantage of in pursuit of helping them achieve their own goals. Sometimes, however, our hope for reward puts us in the position to be better—to see how similar we all are underneath the facades society or our own insecurities construct upon our surfaces.

Both the titular Parvaneh (Nissa Kashani) and the young Swiss girl she meets in Zurich (Cheryl Graf‘s Emely) are more than appearances. They are young girls trying to find their place in a world that often feels as though it has no room for them. This is why the former traveled to the Swiss Alps for asylum from Afghanistan and why the latter would rather roam the streets with friends for the next rave than remain at home with a mother who obviously has more important things to do than parent. They are the perfect foils for each other, a conservative girl from another world opening herself up to the city and a rebel seeking something solid in the form of a real relationship beyond quick pleasure.

It’s a touching story that showcases many hot-button issues in subtle ways enhancing the plot rather than screaming for attention. There’s the poor conditions of immigrants, the legal circus necessary to find the sanctuary promised to outsiders, the bureaucratic red tape preventing services from being utilized altruistically, and the horrible misconception of lecherous young men believing any girl out for fun is open for more despite declarations otherwise. It’s a short film portraying how there may be hope in this war-ravaged world if we only start to look at those different around us through a human lens rather than one filtered by entitlement. There is always a common ground if we have the patience and compassion to find it.

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