Writer/director Mohammad Rasoulof (Iron Island, Head Wind, TFF '08) expertly weaves poetry, mythology, metaphor, and the absurd to tell the fable-like story of Rahmat, who sails from island to island on salt-filled Lake Urmia to collect tears as people unburden their sorrows into glass jars. It is said that the tears are turned into pearls and their sins are atoned for, but Rahmat's intentions remain an enigma. The first community he encounters is about to bury an attractive and possibly promiscuous woman in a salt cave. At his next stop a childlike dwarf is chosen to deliver the jars of sorrow down a well before sunrise. As punishment for not wanting an arranged marriage, a desperate adolescent is literally married off to the sea. Finally, an artist is incarcerated simply for using a different color to portray the monotone landscape.
Moody and elegant, this mesmerizing film can either be a cinematic statement on the dangers of conformity, theocratic social norms, and the collective condition of Iran or simply one man's mythology translated to the screen.
On March 2, 2010, Mohammad Rasoulof was arrested in Iran along with prominent filmmaker Jafar Panahi and 14 others as part of the recent crackdown in response to post-election disputes.