Our reviewer in…Toronto, Maysa Moncao, saw the drama September Of Shiraz starring Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek, who also spoke at a press conference for the film.
Equality for women in the cinema industry has been a feverish debate in the last months. Since Patricia Arquette raised the question during her speech in the Ceremony of Oscars, many women and some men have addressed the matter in campaigns or films. We can add to the list Susan Sarandon, Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Anna Muylaert and even Michael Moore. But I guess Salma Hayek has had an important role, particularly in some communities in the USA, since Frida (2002)
At TIFF15, she came to talk about it with the audience as well as present her new movie Septembers Of Shiraz, in which she left behind her Spanish accent to incorparate an Arabic accent. She performs it pretty well.
She says that initially in Mexico she had a comfortable career as a soap opera actress. Later she would persist the mission that Latinos should be represented in the USA in a bigger way. Although she has had a considerable highlight throughout the years, still we can notice prejudice when the artistic director of TIFF pops the question if she liked to play whores, because she had done it 15 times in the movies. It is quite hard to be an artist when you are still gorgeously hot at 50. But Salma then reminds us of some memorable films she had participated in.
She was discovered by Roberto Rodriguez in Desperados (1995). She then had a chance to share the screen with Antonio Banderas, an idol for her. Later she would work with another colleague from the actor’s studio, Benicio del Toro, in Savages (2012). Hayek cries out that “whatever he does is weird, good and very unusual”. She also studied with Mark Ruffalo.
Undoubtfully, her major work was in Frida, a movie that launched her as a producer. “It took us 8 years to get it done. Being ahead of the curve is the most painful place to be. You have to be ready to be rejected 2,000 times. We took it to Harvey Weinstein. It was difficult.” At the same time, very rewarding too. With Frida Hayek got rid of an obsession which lasted more than 19 years. Her passion for the Mexican painter was so immense that after the movie was finished she had problems with her left leg (in real-life, Kahlo was left crippled after an accident when she was 18).
This year, Hayek returns to Toronto playing a mother and wife of wealthy Jewish jeweller Isaac (Adrien Brody) during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. One morning, without doing anything wrong, Isaac is arrested. While he will suffer agonizing interrogations and tortures (be prepared for Brody’s painful facial expression), Farnez (Hayek) will try to find a meaning for the rebellion. She cannot possibly follow the reasoning of her servants turning sides against her.
The Ayatollah Khomeini became the supreme religious leader in 1979 after living years in exile due to his intolerance against the Shah. The film does not represent Khomeini, but it is clear that he was empowered by the rebellions due to an unfair and decadent society. No power comes from nowhere. Power is either driven or allowed.
Septembers of Shiraz shows an impact of political uphraval on ordinary people and is a lecture on the subtle ways in which unrest exacerbates community tensions. Have we learnt since 1979?
See the official trailer on Youtube.
SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ
☆ ☆ ☆
USA, DRAMA, 2015, 110 MIN
DIRECTOR: WAYNE BLAIR
WITH SALMA HAYEK, ADRIEN BRODY
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Born in Taree, New South Wales, Blair has written and directed numerous television series and shorts, including “Black talk” and “The Djarn Djarns”. Previously at TIFf he played “The Sapphires”.