The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival is pleased to present the North American premiere of Iranian filmmaker Mashid Afsharzadeh’s sophomore feature film, A 5-Star on Saturday, March 7 at 9:30 PM.
The film’s main character, Maryam, is accepted into university but cannot afford the fees. Her mother finds her a job as a maid in a 5-star hotel, where she herself works. Mother and daughter navigate the mundane politics and pettiness of their fellow workers until a big Bollywood star checks in. When his Rolex goes missing the hotel administration must interrogate the staff. As the most recent person hired, Maryam is a prime suspect. Funny and tragic in turn, the broad range of complex female characters working at the hotel result in a film that is filled with warmth, depth and desperation.
Director Mahshid Afsharzadeh made her first appearance as an actor in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s 1988 film The Cyclist. She continued to work as an award-winning actress in over 22 films. In 2000 she was nominated as best leading actress for the film Mr. President by Ghasem Talebi and received critical acclaim for her performance in that film. As of 1998, Afsharzadeh expanded her career by directing and producing the 27-min short film Termite, which brought her a Best Social Film award. Afsharzahed directed her first feature-length film, The Second Start, in 2003, which brought her a Best Movie Award in Isfahan, Iran. 11 years later, A 5-Star (Iran, 2014), which was filmed in Tehran in 2013, is her second feature film and her biggest commercial success.
“This story is about adolescence,” said director Mahshid Afsharzadeh in an email to Women in Film. “The point of view is that of Maryam . . . She doesn’t judge anybody, because she is inexperienced. She observes her surroundings, frustrated, and finds out another aspect of the truth: A cruel reality exists in the adult world. She gains this awareness during her work period in a 5 star hotel.”
A range of international film festivals have honoured Iranian cinema in the last twenty years and many film critics from around the world have praised Iranian cinema as one of the world’s most important artistic cinemas. A 5-Star, by all means, belongs to this category.
The film’s captivating, melancholic music was created by Sattar Oraki, who also composed the music for Academy Award and Golden Bear winner A Separation.
- Shahab Hosseini, who plays the gentle department manager, is a popular radio host in Iran and starred in A Separation, which gained him accolades as best supporting actor.
- Behnoush Bakhtiari, who stars as a woman about to get married, is a famous TV actress in Iran.
- According to the Financial Tribune (First Iranian English Economic Daily) in their September 2014 issue, A 5-Star was part of a group of films forming “…a real spring for Iran cinema…” in terms of box office success.
By Akiko Sakai
Akiko Sakai has a background in film studies and worked at the 2013 Tokyo International Film Festival. She is a member of the #VIWIFF2015 community outreach team
The screening of A 5-Star is preceded by the local short film The Timekeeper by Scott Weber. Purchase tickets here.