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The House Is Black

(1963, Farrokhzad)

"There is no shortage of ugliness in the world, but by closing our eyes on ugliness, we will intensify it."

Written and directed by Forugh Farrokhzad, The House Is Black is a documentary that follows life at a leper colony in rural Iran. It features footage of various residents going on about their daily routines while contrasting it with frequent narration of quotes from the Bible or the Qur'an by Farrokhzad herself; quotes that often, like the one above, clash with the visuals of the film.

The visuals are tough, especially when seeing the toll that leprosy has taken on the children. However, Farrokhzad makes a point of showing us the casualness of life in the colony, men playing board games or talking, the happiness of children while playing ball, or women putting on makeup and brushing their hair.

When I watched this a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea what it was about; didn't even know it was a documentary, so it caught me by surprise. But then again, I suppose that's the intention. Per the opening quote, it's obvious that Farrokhzad's intention was to open our eyes to this "ugliness", and let us know that there are ways to remedy it, but moreover, that there is still beauty in it.