My Red Shoes


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

My Red Shoes
"Perhaps too close, too intimate, too involved, too near."

A deeply personal film, My Red Shoes is rooted in the history of a family of Iranian origin now resident in France. Sara Rastegar has created something that fairly and honestly depicts her parents, her sisters, her aunts, and in the act of doing so shows something of herself. Yet there's also a certain remove, a distance - the windows of the familial home are lit, her mother's cigarette too, the television glows, but we are outside, looking in.

The film switches between interviews that vary in degrees of formality, observation of the little bits of domesticity - repairing things, cooking, hosing down the patio furniture, featuring old home movies, letters read by their authors years after the fact, diaries of Sara's grandfather. As with many in the Iranian diaspora a family marked by revolution, rebellion, the geopolitics of espionage and exile. The Shah in '53, Khomeni in '79, letters sent with details of blackouts during the war with Iraq, questions with difficult answers - "when were we last all together?"

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Mother Fariba, father Kaveh, married on the day of the Cultural Revolution. After the ceremony in the town hall they took seperate paths, each to their own university - "what kind of marriage stars with each party leaving to get killed somewhere else?"

There are tales of firing squads, unofficial prisons, the pragmatism of defiance in a dictatorship - "you can't continue to be an activist once doubt sets in".

These are survivors, literally so - one tale ends with Kaveh, Fariba, returning to the house - "We had risen from the dead".

We hear, too, from Sara's sisters - waiting for their own revolution, conscious that they mark by their existence the passage of time. It is unlikely that any external documentarian would have elicited such cooperation from the Rastegars, but therein lies the issue with the film - it is perhaps too close, too intimate, too involved, too near. Perhaps another in the role of editor (Sara wears many hats within the production) would have made changes to structure, pace, that would serve these stories better. They are worth telling, and well told, but for want of a better word there's a politeness to it all; that's not with disrepectful intent, nor is it a call for it, but My Red Shoes leaves its audience with questions that cannot be answered because they are not asked.

Reviewed on: 23 Jun 2014
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My Red Shoes packshot
A family portrait set against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution.

Director: Sara Rastegar

Writer: Sara Rastegar

Year: 2013

Runtime: 80 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2014

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