Thursday, February 15, 2018

Leila Merat

Leila Merat's short film, Asiyeh, is both an observational character study and a statement about traditional healing methods. A bonesetter in northwestern Iran, Asiyeh Karimi is known around her community as the go-to person to "wrap bones." She sees patients in her home and makes trips on horseback to a teahouse to offer her services. Narration-free scenes with Asiyeh and her patients show her no-nonsense authority. Occasional flinch-making smash cuts emphasize the power of her approach to the healing arts. The film's humor (one of Asiyeh's neighbors estimates that "she is around 40, 50, or 60") and editing choices charmingly suggest female (and elder) empowerment. The filmmaker is heard asking some questions: "You are a bonesetter too?" she mischievously inquires of Asiyeh's rival. A dramatic sequence at the teahouse demonstrates Asiyeh's counseling role: "You didn't fall off the steps," she informs one woman, who is accompanied by her husband. Through persistence and gentleness, Asiyeh find out some uncomfortable truths.
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.