English Title: Friday Evening
Original Title: Asr-e Jom'eh
Country of Origin: Iran
Studio: 79 Cinema Organization
Director: Mona Zandi Haghighi
Producer(s): Jahangir Kousari
Screenplay: Farid Mostafavi
Cinematographer: Hossein Jafarian
Editor: Sepideh Abdolvahab
Runtime: 76 minutes
Starring/Cast: Roya Nonahali, Shokooh Zandi Haghighi, Mohammadreza Mansoorian, Ramin Rastad, Narges Safdarian, Jaleh Sarshar, Mehrdad Sedighian, Hanieh Tavassoli, Roya Javidnia
Sogand is a single mother who is rejected by her parents because of having a baby illegally. Working as a hairdresser at home, she earns money and raises her 15-year-old son (Omid) independently. The contrast and differences between Sogand and her son has caused him to turn into a rebellious and vicious young man. Sogand leaves his son who has been thrown out of school with Hadi who is a mechanic. Even though there is an age difference between Omid and Hadi, Omid becomes friends with Hadi and confides in him. One day when Sogand is getting her customers ready, she becomes very disturbed when a newcomer named Banafesheh enters and it becomes evident that Banafesheh is her sister. Banafesheh tells her that their father is very ill, and wants to see Sogand after all these years. Sogand tells Banafesheh to go away, but she is insistent to return her sister to the family once more.
Sogand creates an imaginary father for her son and makes him believe that his father has gone to Japan to work and the fact is veiled as a secret for fifteen years. At the time when Sogand reveals the truth to her younger sister and to her son, she is confronted with a harsh reaction from her son who has been waiting for years for his father to come back from Japan. Omid ends up at the reformation and training centre and Sogand is caught between staying or leaving.
Friday Evening is Mona Zandi’s debut feature film and like other films made by Iranian female film-makers in recent years, it deals with some taboos and red lines which are defined by Iranian film censorship in terms of social affairs; such as rape, betray, abortion, prostitution, running-away women and homosexuality. Friday Evening has broken some taboos and over passed the red lines in Iranian cinema by focusing on incest and the traumatic story of a woman (Sogand) who is raped by her uncle. The fact that a woman has a son which reminds her of the trauma of rape is a terrifying and painful story which has never been depicted in Iranian Cinema.
As a former assistant of Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Mona Zandi adopts the same realistic style and social approach towards the lives of the lower-class families in Iran which is the main characteristic of Bani-Etemad’s films. Although the film lacks the exciting actions and peaks and crises, the great processing of the film gets the audience involved. This is done without wasting much time on episodes, talking too much or exaggerating. Zandi wisely does not show Sogand’s father and her cheating boyfriend (Nader), who have determinant roles in the development of the story. The relationship between the lonely mother and the bad tempered and wicked son is developed very well; however, the relationship reminds one of the mother and son relationship in Banooye Ordibehesht/The May Lady (Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, 1998).
Zandi’s work experience as a film editor, has taught her how to cut footage crucially, therefore the rhythm and tempo is precisely appointed. For instance the scene where the two sisters meet each other and Banafsheh insists Sogand return to the family is immediately cut to a scene where Omid is eating in a cafe and discussions are going on about Omid’s going back home. The camera movement and the mise en scènes are designed very well especially in the last sequence where in penitentiary Omid’s back is to the camera and looking toward a window. Then Sogand comes in and stands beside him talking. This is a very well designed mise en scène that shows the dramatic situation of Sogand and his son.
At the ‘Women’s Filmmakers Festival in Cologne’ (‘Feminale’) in 2006 where Friday Evening was shown, Zandi mentioned that in order to get permission to show the film in Iran, she had to cut some scenes like epilating and Sogand’s wearing a wig. In reply to this question, why women in Iran are shown as covered even at home, Zandi said, ‘Hijab or covering the hair in Iran is a law and all the film-makers are obliged to observe this law. Therefore, all the women in Iranian films are covered even in their homes.’ Friday Evening was finally released in December 2010 after a four year ban in Iran thanks to the new cultural policy of Ahmadinejad’s government.