Directed by Hamid Jafari • 2015 • Iran
Swathed from head to toe in black, a woman is breaking stones out of a rock wall using a crowbar and her bare hands. For several minutes we watch her prying, pushing, bashing, awkwardly wrestling in her flapping robes, until the block she is after finally comes crashing down, right next to the lens of the low camera and her bare feet. Stone by stone, the blocks are loaded onto a truck, and the driver gives her some money – she has earned her wage. In a stone cave dwelling they built themselves, she tends to her elderly husband before returning the next day to the never-ending work. Her daily routine resembles the torment of Sisyphus – a dusty chore she is doomed to repeat forever. The stony, reddish moonlike landscape of southern Iran and the traditional way of life lend an almost biblical atmosphere to this serene, aesthetically filmed visual poem. Like the arid, unending landscape, the woman’s existence seems to lack any dynamism, gradually raising questions about the meaning of life.