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THE KEY

Iran, 1987 (MIFF 1994, Youth Film Festival)

Director: Ebrahim Forouzesh

Written by featured director at last year's festival, Abbas Kiarostami, Ebrahim Forouzesh's first feature The Key is a deliciously entertaining comic drama that will appeal to all with its inventive humour and mesmerising pace.

Like most of the post-revolution Iranian cinema, The Key was made under the aegis of the deceptively named Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults. Yet as other Iranian films have shown (The Runner, Bashu The Little Stranger), this in no way means that the films are limited to young viewers.

It all begins with Amir Mohammed taking too big a swig from his baby brother's bottle. Mum has gone out shopping; now baby starts crying and the food on the stove is burning. A neighbour, who could provide some much-needed assistance, stops by, but the door is locked. The neighbours on the floor above at least manage ingeniously to send something for the baby to drink, but now his nappy needs changing. Minor household crisis piles on top of minor household crisis, involving what seems to be the entire neighbourhood, until things reach the magnitude of a full scale disaster in this Iranian precursor to Home Alone.

Though remarkably resourceful, Mohammed soon reaches wits' end - until Grandma arrives and remembers where the spare key is hidden. But can young Mohammed reach it?

Resolutely minimalist in its well honed visual and narrative style, the film will have you on the edge of your seat as we follow the resourceful Amir's relentless quest for the key and freedom with breathless anticipation.

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