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MSPIFF: the turmoil of choice

Posted at 2:30 PM on April 19, 2009 by Euan Kerr

It's during film festivals that the grim reality of the words "spoiled for choice" hit home. The MSPIFF has done a good job of making sure the vast majority of the films get a couple of screenings, but time is finite and sometimes you have to decide which line you will join at the expense of stepping away from another.

Tonight the MSPIFF offers many choices. An immediate favorite of mine is "Letters to the President" which screens at 7.30. It's Peter Lom's film about the way Iranians are invited to send letters to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to let him know what they need. And they do, sending millions upon millions of scribbled notes asking for his help in issues large and small.

Some ask for something finite like a new prayer shawl or a goat, others write about their worries about the food supply or religious issues.

There are remarkable scenes of Ahmadinejad riding in an open-topped car with crowds of people shoving letters in through the sunroof. He has a huge staff to deal with the letters, and the claim is many are answered within days. Lom was able to spend a remarkable amount of time with this man who is far from popular in the west, and the film shows a little of life in a country about which we rarely see on the screen.

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