Berlin 10 - Competition
From the writer-director of IT'S WINTER and ABEL FERRARA: NOT GUILTY...
Recently released from prison, Ali makes the most of his return, amidst much talk of the upcoming elections and promises of change. Despite working nights, he tries to spend the most time possible with his beautiful wife and young daughter. To escape the stress of urban living, Ali retreats to his favorite pastime of hunting in the secluded forest north of town. Tragedy strikes and Ali's wife Sara is accidentally killed in a police shoot-out with demonstrators. After a long and frustrating experience at the police station, Ali's own search for his missing six-year-old daughter ends in horror and pushes him over the edge. In broad daylight, overlooking the busy city's surrounding highways, Ali randomly shoots and kills two policemen. After a high-speed car chase outside of town, Ali flees into the northern forest where he is captured by two police officers. Ali is resigned to his fate and watches quietly as the arguing policemen lose their way in the woods. Situations complicate and the line between hunter and hunted becomes difficult to define...
Rafi Pitts, Mitra Hajjar
Politically-flavoured drama-cum-thriller ... taut, concise and highly individual ... The Hunter shows Pitts expanding his range, offering political provocation ... One of the more marketable of recent Iranian films – especially if the thriller element is highlighted - The Hunter should be a modest art house hit, while festivals with a human rights angle will take a keen interest ... Pitts gives the Tehran section a distinctive spin: the sentiment-free depiction of Ali’s desperation carrying echoes of Italian neo-realism. What makes this section especially effective is its formal patterning: repeated shots of a lone car in tunnels and overhead vistas of Tehran as an impersonal maze of motorway systems ... Impressive as a generally silent lead, Pitts delivers his minimum of dialogue uninflected and sotto voce, his saturnine face giving the beleaguered Ali a solemn moral weight ... The film’s anger at Iran’s ruling powers comes to a head in the final sequence as the police force is shown to be not only ineffectual but corrupt ... A distinctive but unshowy score includes music by Arvo Pärt, Radiohead and guitar composer Rhys Chatham.
Jonathan Romney, SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
After losing his family during the run-up to Iran's disputed 2009 elections, a Tehrani man snaps and turns sniper ... With its stripped-down narrative left purposefully oblique, the indirect storytelling allows different readings ... Boasting expressive landscapes and a strong, visceral sound design ... ace lenser Mohammad Davoodi provides stunning long shots locating small human figures in powerful landscapes that seem to overwhelm them, while poetic cutting by Pitts' regular editor, Hassan Hassandoost, sets the emotional temperature ...
Alyssa Simon, VARIETY
Rafi Pitts signs a work of multiple passionate viewings on the Iran of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ... has moments of brilliance, even offering an amazing car chase in the American cinema style. Most enthusiasts will want to see (leading character) Ali as the incarnation of Iranian society as a whole. But this is the same for all these works and filmmakers: in a world in crisis, individuals are at an impasse, heads against the walls.
Alain Lorfevre, LA LIBRE BELGIQUE (Belgium)
Convincing: Iranian director Rafi Pitts refers to "Shekarchi" ("The Hunter") as "Western neo-realism", and his protagonist actually has something of Clint Eastwood. The story of this hard-hitting film, however, is very timely: Shekarchi tells of a man who eventually has a breakdown because of a system that takes everything from him - and without even providing a reason ... Rafi Pitts sends a few discreet signals to situate the film in the political present. At night, the cries of the opposition penetrate into Ali's apartment, and in the car he hears a speech whose promise of change sounds like mockery.
Dominik Kamalzadeh, DER STANDARD (Austria)
An alarming look at the troubled nation under leader Ahmadinejad. Pitts is one of those Iranian directors trying to create a more articulate and courageous vision than those which we have become accustomed to ...
Alessandra de Luca, AVVENIRE (Italy)
Among the best films in the Berlin Competition, THE HUNTER disseminates a series of explicit signales even if they are not always immediately decipherable ... In Europe or in America this film would be a story of alienation or madness. In Iran, it's an accurate metaphor about the the country's explosive situation ... western Iranian-paced Peckinpah-like film, but as abstract and laconic as an Antonioni of the 60s.
Fabio Ferzetti, IL MESSAGGERO (Italy)