Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Persian director Ramin Mohseni's episode film Az Dourdast (AKA From Afar) tells three successive stories of life in Iran, each with the same two actors, Jamshid Hasempour and Kourosh Tahami. The first, a parable about the holiness of knowledge and the written word, cross-cuts between two time frames: the ancient past, where a sheik (Hasempour) combats the aftereffects of a barbarian invasion by struggling to prevent his books from being burned, and contemporary times, where an Iranian student (Tahami) must sell his book collection to pay his rent and dodge eviction. The second segment casts Tahami as Mehran, a secret art-lover who struggles not only with the recent departure of his wife, but with his obnoxious, domineering mother (Behnaz Jafari). To escape from the oppression of his environment, he takes a long sojourn into the mountains to revel in the beauty of nature, and encounters a reclusive, eccentric painter (Hasempour). In the final episode, Hasempour and Tahami play, respectively, a father and his affluent architect son. When the father dies, the son grapples with the devastation of his loss, ultimately journeying to a countryside mosque that they visited together when he was a child.