Fifi Howls From Happiness (2014)
Mitra Farahani's lyrical documentary explores the enigma of provocative artist Bahman Mohassess, the so-called "Persian Picasso," whose acclaimed paintings and sculptures dominated pre-revolutionary Iran. Irreverent and uncompromising, a gay man in a hostile world, Mohassess had a conflicted relationship with his homeland-revered by elites in the art scene and praised as a national icon, only to be censored later by an oppressive regime. Known for his iconoclastic art as well as his scathing declarations, Mohasses abandoned the country over 30 years ago for a simple, secluded life in Italy. (C) Music Box Films … More
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Critic Reviews for Fifi Howls From Happiness
Whatever its virtues and flaws, "Fifi" performs the vital service of acquainting the world with an artist who deserves - despite his own dismissal of such notions - world recognition, if not immortality.
Farahani's direction is artfully suggestive but also, at moments, oblique; she seems to think that she's making a Godardian essay-film.
By its bittersweet end, "Fifi Howls From Happiness" has stayed almost entirely in one apartment and yet somehow unveiled both a life in full and a blank canvas.
Brilliant, loving, and as intensely political as any of Mohassess' paintings or sculptures, Fifi Howls from Happiness celebrates connection as much as it reveals isolation, dedication alongside outrage.
An enlightening documentary chronicling the career of the Persian Picasso.
Beautifully modulated. Offers a remarkably uncensored glimpse into a very significant life through creation, exile and its inevitable yet noble end.
An intriguing, often highly poetic documentary that is almost the equal of its turbulent genius of a subject.
Though he does it with a grin, Mohassess rages against the dying of the light as well as many of the things the world presented him with during his life.
From the allegorical opening to the film's shocking, painful, but expected end, Farahani exposes as much of herself as she does of him; she's no less fascinating a subject.
That Ms. Farahani found Mr. Mohassess and persuaded him to share his story is a terrific coup, even if a great deal of his life's work remains elusive.
An involving documentary that in the final estimation feels a slight bit out of proportion.
A documentary about an arrogant and weird Iranian artist living in exile in Rome.
Fifi Howls From Happiness evokes feelings in exile of the liveliness of culture in Tehran decades earlier, without a breath of nostalgia.
Though shy on background info, the docu offers a fascinating portrait of Iranian artist Bahman Mohassess.
The film rarely leaves the subject's Rome apartment, yet it never feels static.
Never less than addictively fascinating - Mohassess's story is a heroic torch of individualism battling mad-state ideology, from the Shah to the mullahs, and his autumnal stance toward all things non-Mohassess is hilariously derisive.
Fifi's only major shortcoming is the visual indifference that hobbles many of Farahani's shots... but demanding she tighten up her editing feels like an inconsequential request in the face of a portrayal this thunderously personal.
Mitra Farahani rescues the doc from becoming a talking-head fest by embracing her creative self as a character and exposing the travails of her own authorship process.
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