Sunday, January 16, 2022
Q&As with director Vadim Perelman on 1/16.
An official selection at numerous international festivals, including Berlinale, and a submission for the 2021 Best International Film Oscar, Vadim Perelman’s Persian Lessons proceeds from a spellbinding premise: In 1942, Gilles (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, César winner for BPM), a Belgian Jew, is sent to a German concentration camp. He escapes execution by claiming to be Persian, but is ordered to teach the language (which he does not speak) to an SS officer (veteran actor Lars Eidinger), who plans to open a restaurant in Iran after the war. Gilles must somehow fabricate a language, complete with rules and extensive vocabulary, knowing that exposure of the ruse will cost him his life. To wit, Ukrainian director Perelman, best known for the Ben Kingsley drama House of Sand and Fog, collaborated with a Russian linguist to devise a 600-word lexicon of ersatz Persian for this suspenseful, performance-driven film.