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Pet Sins March 2007

Baran

This poetic, gorgeous 2001 film from Iran provides a glimpse into the life of the large Afghani refugee population in Iran as well as their relationship with Iranian society. The multiethnic nature of Iranian society is evident in the story - Farsi speakers and Turkic speakers make their appearance among the characters.

In this tale, Iranian teenager Lateef works as a tea-boy at a construction site. When his boss switches him to hard construction work in order to give Lateef's tea-boy job to an Afghan youth, Lateef develops a resentment for the Afghan usurper. The tension between the Afghans who work illegally for low wages and local Iranian laborers is played out in Lateef's acts of petty vengeance against Rahmat, the Afghani worker. Lateef eventually makes a startling discovery, repents of his cruelty and works to make up for it.

Lateef is a character who defies Western stereotypes of Asian men in general, and Muslim men in particular. Some viewers might be disappointed to find an Asian male character who is not a sexist villain. Lateef is self-sacrificing, courageous and devoted even in the face on an unrequited love that has no hope for fulfilment.