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Pilgrimage (Ziarat)

by Bahman Kiarostami

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Despite the threat of mines, tadalafil pills assassination, ed and death by dehydration and starvation, recipe determined Shiite Muslims–as many as 3,000 a day–have been pouring across the Iran-Iraq border since the fall of the Iraqi government. They risk their lives for only one reason: to visit the holy city of Karbala, fifty miles south of Bagdad. This city houses the magnificent shrine of seventh-century leader Imam Hussein, grandson of the prophet Mohamed. Hussein died in a battle in 681, a martyr to the Shiite faith. The intense devotion of these pilgrims to Imam Hussein and Karbala astounds outside observers at the same time that it puts the Iranian government in a major predicament. Torn between bureaucracy and allegiance to Islam, Tehran is continually revising its emigration policies, periodically opening and then closing its border. Meanwhile people are dying, and chaos reigns at crossing points.

Director Bahman Kiarostami stationed a camera in the border city of Mehran, the main crossing for the pilgrimage, to record this extraordinary phenomenon of faith. Before the fall of Iraq, Mehran was a small, sleepy town. Now it is filled with people trying to get permits, standing in massive lines awaiting trial for illegal crossings. Pilgrimage captures the amazing scenes in and around the Mehran courthouse and follows individuals both coming and going as they tell of their struggles with border officials, with the elements, with starvation and thirst. There are also interviews with government officials who must discourage border crossings, at the same time that their own belief system–and that of the Shiite government of this religious state–must at least tacitly support the actions of the pilgrims

In this highly detailed, beautifully filmed documentary, the camera does not take sides. Viewers see many facets of this issue and experience a range of emotions while learning about this historic event and about Iranian culture and politics.

Credits:
Director: Bahman Kiarostami
Producers: Marjaneh Moghimi and Bahman Kiarostami
Cinematography: Bahman Kiarostami and Mitra Farahani
Editor: Bahman Kiarostami
Mix: Keyvan Jahanshahi

In Farsi with English Subtitles/2004

Festivals
Official Selection: Tribeca Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival, Internationales Dokumentarfilmfestival München, UNAFF 2006, Link TV: Bridge to Iran

Bahman Kiarostami
Bahman was born in Tehran in 1978. He started working as an assistant director in 1996. His documentary films have focused on the political power of faith inside contemporary Iranian culture and eloquently explore the comples layers of religious significance in the Iranian controversial society. He has collaborated with Butimar Productions on numerous award winning films such as Pilgrimage, Infidels, Persian Gardens and Kamancheh. For a complete list of his films please visit: http://www.bahmankiarostami.com

Marjaneh Moghimi
Marjaneh is the founder of Butimar Productions and has produced numerous award-wining documentaries with acclaimed directors such as Michael Apted, Bahman Kiarostami, Justine Shapiro, and Mitra Farahani.  Her latest collaboration was with renowned director Bahram Beyzaie on his shadow-play Jana and Baladoor.

Ziarat (Pligrimage) is being distributed in the U.S:

FILMS TRANSIT INTERNATIONAL, INC.
att: Diana Holtzberg
166 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 614-2808
e-mail: diana@filmstransit.com
website: www.filmstransit.com

For international distribution:

FILMS TRANSIT INTERNATIONAL, INC.
att: Jan Rofekammp
252 Gouin Boulevard East
Montreal. Quebec. Canada H3L 1A8
Tel: (514) 844-3358
Fax: (514) 844-7298
e-mail: janrofekamp@filmstransit.com
website: www.filmstransit.com