islamabad - Iranian film “The Mirror” will be screened at National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) on April 7.

The film was directed by Jafar Panhai, about a little girl trying to find her way home from school.  The film is meant to show how “reality and the imagination are intertwined, they are very similar”.  The film was staged in a way which normally nobody would suspect was drama but would instead believe was real.

Jafar Panhai was born in 1960 and began making his own amateur films as a teenager.

In 1994, he was the assistant director on Abbas Kiarostami’s Through the Olive Trees, and the following year, he released his debut directorial effort, The White Ballon, which was scripted by Kiarostami. The Mirror (Ayneh) is Panahi’s second film and was released in 1997.

The Mirror is significantly different and innovative, not only from that previous film but also from Kiarostami’s well-known style of filmmaking.

While Kiarostami typically uses austere, long-duration static camera shots of people in close conversation, Jafar Panahi opens up this film with a spectacular three-and-half-minute panning shot that makes a full 360-degree circuit around a traffic circle.

Later on, there are other carefully crafted, long-lasting shots showing the girl wandering in and out of closeup, sometimes disappearing in crowd scenes and then reappearing, still in perfect frame.

Contemporary Iranian films are sometimes likened to the Italian neo-realist period of the 1940s and 1950s, and that comparison perhaps conjures up images of rough-and-ready, documentary-style films seeking to capture more of the “real world” by disregarding professional narrative film craftsmanship.

But if you look at those original Italian neo-realist films, they do use narrative filmmaking techniques quite skilfully.