(Khaneh siah ast / Forugh Farrokhzad / 1963)
Great documentaries are spiritual, embracing mystery while considering a great Doubt. When filmmakers are unwilling to be humbled or at least consider the unknowable of their own subjects is when their films descend into the murky realm of objective pomposity; the bane of secular thought that is convinced of its own neutrality.
Farrokhzad, in the most conventional informational film sequence, situates leprosy as a problem of social injustice (poverty and indifference). This moment is enveloped within the ethnography of the leper community that lingers on the ritualistic faith of the lepers, or rather, the ritualistic actions of them (the schoolroom segment undermines the concrete reading that the lepers believe everything they participate in). The subject's are humanized and exploited. Farrokhzad understands that the two are mutually dependent, but the extent to which she navigates this polarity is unrivaled.