Combustible Celluloid
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With: Mania Akbari, Amin Maher, Mina Hamidi, Bahareh Mosadeghiyan, Ramin Rastad, Roya Akbari, Maedeh Tahmasebi, Behnaz Jafari
Written by: Mania Akbari
Directed by: Mania Akbari
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Persian, with English subtitles
Running Time: 77
Date: 03/18/2013

10 + 4 (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Report from SFIFF

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: In 2002, Abbas Kiarostami cast painter Mania Akbari as the driver in his experimental, digital video film Ten (SFIFF 2003), and another soul was lost to the film bug. Two years later, Akbari turned director with 20 Fingers, which explored different facets of relationships between men and women (with Akbari and actor Bijan Daneshmand playing all the parts). It was shot in very much the same manner as Ten, using long, single takes and separate segments whose total was more than its parts. It was an assured debut, even if it occasionally tended toward the overwritten and overcooked. Now Akbari is back, having decided -- apparently at Kiarostami's urging -- to abandon her next, planned film and instead make a film about her battle with breast cancer. 10+4 is billed as an official sequel to Ten. The opening shot has Akbari back in the driver's seat with her now-grown son (Amin Maher) beside her (she includes a clip from Ten so that we recognize him). They talk about her bald head and where to get her medication. But the camera begins moving, to the back seat of cabs, to an elevated cable car, a hospital bed and even to a café, and it even resorts to jump cuts and cutaways. Akbari attempts to bring back some of the same actors, but also casts new ones, some cancer sufferers, some not. It's a brave attempt, and not without its moments and merits, but it's difficult to sit through and doesn't seem particularly cathartic, either for Akbari or for her audience. At one point, she says she likes to go to parties and to go dancing, "anything to get her away from this disease." Making a film about it, then, seems counterproductive. Not to mention that Akbari's slight taste for the maudlin returns in greater measures here.

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