Last week, the MPAA hosted a screening of what promises to be one of this year’s most intense, thought-provoking foreign language films, The Patience Stone. The film follows the growth of an unnamed woman played by the versatile actress, Golshifteh Farahani and the evolution of her relationship with a comatose husband. Sony Pictures Classics and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) partnered with the MPAA for a discussion after the screening focused on how civilians survive life in conflict zones.
The Patience Stone is designed to challenge our thinking about gender roles and the effects of conflicts on civilians. Through the film, we see the author-turned-director Atiq Rhahimi explore the impact of war, violence and tradition on the unnamed Muslim woman.
In remarks before the screening, Sheldon Himelfarb, the Director of both the Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation and the Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding Center of Innovation at USIP, highlighted the importance of films like The Patience Stone, An Inconvenient Truth, and Waiting for Superman as mechanisms for social change.
After the film, an eye-opening panel, moderated by Kathleen Kuehnast, the Director for the Center for Gender and Peacebuilding at USIP, reflected on the social relevancy and intensity of the film. In the panel, Hossai Wardak, an Afghani scholar who is a visiting Afghanistan expert at USIP, attested to the reality of the film: “As someone who actually grew up in a conflict zone, as someone who actually worked in a conflict zone, whatever you see in this film is actually matching a reality on the ground.”
The story of repressed emotions, frustrations, and suffering of women and men in conflict areas applies to a myriad of places in the world. The other panelist, Gary Barker, spoke to this broad applicability, saying, “[The film] brought to mind several impressions and memories of young men that we’ve interviewed and worked with…in Brazil.” Barker is the Executive Director of Promundo-U, an international organization that advocates for gender equality by educating men and young boys.
Sony Pictures Classics has a long track record of finding critically acclaimed foreign language films and bringing them to a larger audience in the United States, and this is no exception. The Patience Stone has already won Best Picture in both the Abu Dhabi and Eurasia Film Festivals.
The Patience Stone is slated for a limited release in the United States on August 14th.