New Middle East Cinema
The Patience Stone
dir. Atiq Rahimi, Afghanistan, 2012, 102 min. Presenter: Brian Spooner
In a country torn apart by war, Afghanistan or elsewhere...A young woman in her thirties watches over her older husband in a decrepit room. A bullet in the neck has reduced him to a comatose state. He has been abandoned by his fellow combatants and even by his own brothers. One day, the woman's vigil changes. She begins to speak truth to her silent husband, telling him about her childhood, her suffering, her frustrations, her loneliness, her dreams, desires, and secrets. After years of living under his control, with no voice of her own, she says things she could never have spoken before, even though they have been married for ten years.
Her husband has unconsciously become syngué sabour (The Patience Stone) - a magical black stone that, according to Persian mythology, absorbs the plight of those who confide in it. The woman's confessions are extraordinary and without restraint: about sex and love, her anger against a man who never understood her, who mistreated her, who never showed her any respect or kindness. Through the words she delivers so audaciously to her husband, the woman seeks to free herself from suffering. But after weeks of looking after him, she begins to act, discovering herself in the relationship she starts with a young soldier.
The legend of the patience stone also says that when it has absorbed all that it can handle, it explodes, causing the world to end. But, for one brave Afghan woman, it is a risk she's willing to take to unburden herself and be free.
The Patience Stone is adapted from the best-selling novel by Atiq Rahimi, director and co-writer, with Jean-Claude Carrière, of the film adaptation. The novel "The Patience Stone" has been translated into 33 languages and was winner of the 2008 Goncourt Prize, the most prestigious book award in France.
The Cinema Studies Program, the Jewish
Studies Program, the Middle East Center, and the Near Eastern Languages &
Civilizations Department at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration
with the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival and International House
Philadelphia, present the 2013 edition of New Middle East Cinema. Recently released feature films, which
represent a large number of countries in the region, have been selected as the
best to be presented and discussed to further the understanding of current
Middle Eastern societies and cultures through cinema.