Somewhere in Iran, a construction site buzzes with the activity of mostly illegal (unregistered) Afghan refugees under the eye of building manager Memar (Mohammad Amir Naji). Teenager Lateef (Hossein Abedini) is resentful of them, especially when the young son of an injured worker, Rahmat (Zahra Bahrami) takes his caretaker’s job serving tea and meals to the workers. The slender and weak Rahmat is an easy target of resentment in the poverty stricken team, until Lateef discovers Rahmat’s secret: he’s a girl. The deception is one of life’s necessities in a quest for survival amidst the million dispalced Afghan refugees in Iran. Lateef’s resentment turns to infatuation, even as they two are separated by the forces of fate.
 

4
A very beautiful film.

The setting is a small town in Iran, close to the border with Afghanistan. Lateef works on a building site, and he becomes jealous of a young Afghani refugee worker, Rahmat, who does the job better than he does. At first, he takes out his spite and even racism against Rahmat and his father, but then he discovers, to his amazement, that 'Rahmat' isn't a young man, as he'd assumed, but a young woman.

Baran – the title means 'rain', but it's also the name of the young woman – was directed by Majid Majidi, who made The Color Of Paradise, and it's another very beautiful, deceptively simple, film from Iran. It's a plea for understanding, for the tolerance of refugees, a message that certainly needs reinforcing in today's Australia, and the non-professional actors give completely convincing performances.

Baran
deservedly won the prize for Best Film at Montreal two years ago, and it's a find addition to the growing numbers of quality films from Iran.