Universal Language: Kiarostami in Winnipeg?

English Daily #2
Universal Language (Matthew Rankin, Canada, 2024), Regional Competition, 12-7 12:30, 19:00 House of Cinema H. Malyan Hall

What would an Abbas Kiarostami film look like if it was shot by Wes Anderson in Guy Maddin's hometown of Winnipeg, Canada? Matthew Rankin offers his own version of this otherworldly mix in his second feature film, Universal Language, his newest tribute to world cinema. In the best traditions of Iranian cinema, the film begins among kids in an educational institution, the Youth Development Center, where a French teacher is very angry at his students. At the center of the fury is Omid, whose glasses are lost (or rather stolen by a turkey) and who cannot participate in class due to nearsightedness. On the way home from school, two of Omid's classmates, Nazgol and Negin, find 500 rials in the ice and decide to help Omid buy a new pair.

This plotline and the other stories that develop alongside it are decorated with elements of surrealism and absurdist comedy: turkeys meet their future owners via social media, UNESCO registers a portfolio forgotten on a bench decades ago as a cultural monument, which all tourists yearn to visit, see and be amazed. Meanwhile, at its core this is a film full of longing for one’s place of birth, loved ones, fear of losing each other and incurable melancholy, which perhaps truly is the universal language all of us can speak.

Sona Karapoghosyan