Under the Shadow
Tehran, sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s: the Iran-Iraq War is in full effect, with Saddam Hussein’s air forces bombing Tehran mercilessly in an effort to shatter morale. The details of the war are hardly exposited, which is fair: for the citizens caught in the middle, there was no logic or historical context, only two countries with longstanding animosity trying to weaken the other and reclaim land.
If you’re wondering why Asghar Farhadi’s acclaimed third feature, Fireworks Wednesday, hasn’t gotten an American release until now—ten years after its original release in Iran—the answer is unsurprising, if depressingly familiar: money. In 2006, Asghar Farhadi was a less recognized name internationally than Jafar Panahi, whose Offside was released the same year, thus "saturating" the market for Iranian film in the United States, at least as far as film distributors were concerned. So while Fireworks Wednesday’s original American release was limited to the festival circuit, its belated distribution ten years later—after A Separation (2011) and The Past (2013) have cemented Farhadi as one of modern cinema’s great humanist filmmakers—amends that mistake, proving why Farhadi deserves to be mentioned alongside his compatriots Panahi and Abbas Kiarostami (though his style, tone, and subjects differ markedly from them).