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#54: Ali Aqa

Directed by: Kamran Heidari
2017 / 81 mins
Persian with English Subtitles

Seventy-year-old Ali Aqa’s large, fleshy hands shake as he helps a newborn pigeon chick hatch. His pigeons, which he keeps on the roof of his home, mean everything to him. He calls his favorite white pigeon “sweetheart” and even takes her into his bedroom. His wife is less than enthusiastic about this, and has good cause to be jealous. He may be the embodiment of tenderness when dealing with his beloved pigeons, but this cantankerous old man is a trial for the human beings around him, as we soon learn from this dynamic portrait, shot up close to its protagonist. He orders his wife and son around and is consumed by paranoia. When it goes too far, even the film’s director Kamran Heidari abandons his strictly neutral position as an observer. The pigeons are Ali’s way of escaping reality—in particular, an impending hospitalization—but this proves ever more difficult. Ali Aqa’s small-scale, everyday story encompasses a great human drama: how do we accept the inevitable?