The Gardener

Exiled Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf and his son Maysam journey from their home in Paris to the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa for a crash course in the Baha’i Faith and a discussion of organized religion in the modern world. This quasi-documentary (2012) represents an act of protest against the Iranian government, which has suppressed the Baha’i Faith since its founding in Iran in the early 19th century and, contrary to its inclusive theology, prohibits Iranians from traveling to Israel. Despite this religious conflict, Makhmalbaf’s tone is thoughtful and becalmed, the imagery often poetic. In the climactic sequence, he drives his camera’s tripod into one of the garden’s flowerbeds and waters it along with the plants—a poignant metaphor for his desire to foster harmony through filmmaking. In English and subtitled Farsi.