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:: Baran

According to the Red Cross, the number of refugees working illegally in Iran after fleeing the 1979 Soviet invasion numbers around two million. Lateef (Hossein Abedini) is a good natured and lazy Iranian boy who works on a building site in Teheran. His job involves working as a caretaker as well as providing tea and food to the Afghan workers who work illegally for minimum wages. When one of Lateef's co-workers, an illegal Afghan employee, is injured on the worksite, the building supervisor Memar (Mohammad Reza Naji) is under great pressure to keep the incident from the building inspectors or risk jeopardising every illegal worker's employment and the building project itself. A friend of the injured man brings along a young replacement to help out on the worksite, assigning them to Lateef's catering duties whilst Lateef is assigned to more labour intensive tasks. A resentful Lateef attempts to sabotage the new worker by breaking crockery, drenching them with water and smashing up the contents of the tearoom.

Lateef's attitude changes when one day he discovers the secret that the worker has been keeping. The young worker assumed to be a male turns out to be a beautiful young woman named Baran (Zahra Bahrami) and Lateef is both stunned and smitten by the young girl's beauty and bravery. He sets out to impress the girl and acts as her protector. The government building inspectors eventually return to the site and force all the illegal Afghan workers to abandon the workplace which results in many of them opting to return to Afghanistan. Lateef risks his own well being and his social standing to help Baran by giving her money to take back home.

The actors in Majid Majidi's film are all real refugees and bring an undeniable sincerity to their roles, a la the many actors that worked in the films of the Italian neo-realist movement of the 1950s. When the film was released, the refugee actors allegedly bought every available copy of any newspaper that carried pictures from the film, an indication of the way this film has been embraced in Iran. Baran is a bittersweet romantic film that says more through its action and direction than through its dialogue, and provides an insight into the tenuous existence of refugees struggling to survive in modern day Iran.