On Friday Facets Multimedia will begin a weeklong run of The Hunter
, the ambitious fourth feature by writer-director Rafi Pitts. Pitts is a London-based filmmaker who makes movies in his native Iran, and part of the fascination of his work comes from its fusion of Iranian and European filmmaking styles. Indeed, the director I’ve thought of most while watching Pitts’s work is the Austrian Christian Petzold
, who shares his taste for finely honed sound design, bare-bones imagery, and withholding performances. Yet Pitts is clearly Iranian in his political concerns and elliptical storytelling. In his recent review for Cinema Scope magazine
emeritus Jonathan Rosenbaum
praised The Hunter
for its mysterious narrative and for its “view of Tehran in all its modernist, polluted disarray that captures the city better than any other film I’ve seen.”
In anticipation of the film’s release, you can rent Pitts’s previous feature It’s Winter (2006) from Facets or you can see it for $2.99 at MUBI.com. I’d also recommend checking out Pitts’s open letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from late 2010, written in response to the still-pending sentences on filmmakers Mohammad Rasoulof and Jafar Panahi. While The Hunter makes only a few explicit references to the political climate in which it was shot (in spring 2009, just before the contentious presidential election and subsequent demonstrations), it’s very much about living under oppression. That Pitts makes this clear through a minimum of cinematic means confirms his status as a director worth watching.