TIFF 2023: ‘Motherland’

The anxiety-inducing energy in the short film Motherland speaks to Jasmin Mozzaffari’s multifaceted talents as a storyteller.

The filmmaker, known for her feature-length debut Firecrackers, generates interest quickly as the audience is given the broad strokes of the Iran hostage crisis, followed by a smash cut to Iranian student Babak (Behtash Fazlali) fleeing from an attack.  Despite the violent confrontation, Babak is determined to study in America and marry his girlfriend Katie (Oriana Leman of Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities – Pickman’s Model).  An approaching date to meet Katie’s parents excites Babak as much as it leaves him on edge.

Mozzaffari plays with comfort levels and small spaces to drum up the intensity felt by Motherland’s primary characters.  After establishing the stakes, the writer/director uses these environmental elements to build intimacy, and then follows up with a decision to either play up the romantic optimism between the young lovers or reintroduce the tense reality they’re living in.  Motherland is emotional, riveting, and one of the best shorts I’ve seen in a very long time.


Motherland screens as part of TIFF’s Short Cuts 2023 Programme 06 on:

Saturday, September 16 at 6:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre

Language: English, Persian
Runtime: 24 minutes

For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.

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