In Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s political drama The President, the brutal dictator of an unnamed country (the movie was shot mainly in the Republic of Georgia) is deposed in a popular rebellion and goes on the run with his five-year-old grandson. Disguising themselves as refugees, they melt into the general populace, and as they cross paths with ordinary citizens, the old man begins to reckon with all the misery he’s caused and the boy begins to see through the grandfather he once revered. The fable of a leader going incognito among his people is as ancient as the King Arthur legend and as modern as the last days of Saddam Hussein; Makhmalbaf turns it into a story at once timeless and contemporary, eventually pushing past the immediate matters of guilt and comeuppance to ask whether democracy can ever flourish amid an endless cycle of oppression and revenge. Continue reading >>