Review: Weekend (2020)

courtesy of Vilnius International Short Film Festival

You do not need a big budget or the latest technology to make a film, given that the filmmaker you actually have something to say and possess enough skills to articulate it. The Iranian filmmaker Ario Motevaghe’s his simply constructed and executed short film Weekend is the prime example of that. Filmed in just two static shots by a DSLR camera, it speaks volumes about the death penalty from a rarely employed angle. After winning a number of awards at festivals in the US, it competed at the recently held Vilnius International Short Film Festival.

The first of the two wide-angle shots is set in a city park, in the tree shade. A group of people, presumably consisting of family members and friends or neighbors walks in from the left hand side and sits down for a picnic. They enjoy their food in a relative piece and quiet, interrupted only by the chirping birds. All of a sudden, noise from the speakers appears and starts dominating the scene, and as it gets clearer, we realize that the verdict of a criminal is being read and that he is about to be executed.

The second shot, filmed in the counter-light, making it an effective shadow play, shows the construction crane and silhouettes – the one of the man about to be executed and those of the people in the crowd who have gathered to observe the execution. The film ends with one man in the crowd, presumably the pater familias from the first scene, lifting a child, his son, on his shoulders so he can see the act better.

Death penalty is usually a part of the legal, ethical and philosophical discussions, but it is often considered too morbid to be shown as something common, as a fact of a regular daily life or a weekend public event the masses enjoy in some way, which is really a scary thing. In a simple, but beautifully efficient manner, Motevaghe exposes the banality of the act and the nameless, sometimes even faceless people who can be someone’s family members, friends and neighbours enjoying the show.

Original title: Akhare hafte
Year: 2020.
Runtime: 7’ 25’’
Country: Iran
Language: Farsi
Directed by: Ario Motevaghe
Written by: Ario Motevaghe
Cast: Sahar Taherkhani, Bardiya Shariati, Malihe Esfandiyari, Mostafa Latifikhan, Fardin Ghaderi
Cinematography by: Ario Motevaghe
Sound design by: Pedram Babaiee
Sound recording by: Shahab Rezaiee
Special effects by: Mostafa Osanlo
Colourist: Ario Motevaghe
Produced by: Ario Motevaghe