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09/23/14

Oscar Buzz: 99 Homes and Rosewater

Source: The HAND Foundation's newsletter


Ramin Bahrani

Before his passing, famed movie critic Roger Ebert declared writer-director Ramin Bahrani as the “new great American director.” With the latest buzz surrounding Bahrani’s new film, 99 Homes, Ebert’s prophetic words are now bearing fruit. Co-written with iconic Iranian film director Amir Naderi, Bahrani’s film is a raw and honest look into the housing mortgage crisis of 2008. Many banks and mortgage lenders offered predatory subprime mortgages to people who could not afford the monthly payment. These mortgages resulted in the foreclosure of thousands of homes across the country. When 99 Homes premiered at the Venice Film Festival, critics were raving about how potent it was. IndieWire noted that the film “opened with blood spatter, and ends with your blood boiling...99 Homes is exactly as effective as it needs to be.” At the end of the film Bahrani dedicates the movie to Ebert, who he had developed a close friendship with.

Another movie that had critics talking this summer was Rosewater, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Rosewater is Jon Stewart’s directorial debut, a film about Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. Bahari, who was working for Newsweek at the time, was arrested in Iran after the disputed 2009 presidential election that reelected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a second term. For weeks, thousands of people peacefully marched in the streets all over Iran demanding to have their votes recounted. The protesters were met with brute force and thousands were arrested. Among the many arrest was Bahari, who was imprisoned for 100 days. This is Stewart’s first foray into feature films (he also wrote the screenplay) and as Josh Dickey from Mashable writes, “[it's] impossible not to see Rosewater through the prism of Jon Stewart, who is rightfully beloved for his humanism as much as his comedy.

Both 99 Homes and Rosewater are making their way through the festival circuit and will open in theatres very soon.

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