Invigorating trademark interplay between truth and fiction with uncommon cinematic bravado, this highly original political mystery, told from multiple perspectives and time periods, is unlike any other Iranian film in existence.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
Deserving of its exclamation mark, Mani Haghighi’s A Dragon Arrives! goes boldly where no other Iranian film has gone before. Shuffling between curious documentary testimony – from the interviewees, Haghighi’s family and the director himself – and crisply cinematic reenactments of an archaeological adventure in the vein of Raiders of the Lost Ark, this wildly entertaining puzzle box is also a great yarn on political and historical spin. In 1965, Hafizi (Amir Jadidi), a dashing secret policeman, undergoes an interrogation after the prime minister’s assassination, while in flashbacks he investigates the death of an exiled prisoner in a vast desert valley. Aided by a hippy sound engineer and a geologist who tastes rocks, Hafizi uncovers more than one mystery throughout the shaggy-dog story, itself an exquisite corpse on the slippery nature of truth, myth and imagination. Energetically scored and visualised as a widescreen Hollywood epic while paying homage to Iranian new wave cinema, A Dragon Arrives! might just be Iran’s first legitimate big-screen genre movie. — Tim Wong
“You could send yourself crazy trying to determine what A Dragon Arrives! is actually all about; what opens as a playfully elusive detective noir turns into something else entirely as fact and fiction begin to blur. Mani Haghighi interweaves various narratives and timelines to blend history, allegory, and magical realism into a spellbinding film that may or may not be about the current state of Iran… A Dragon Arrives! is a rather magnificent and surprisingly enjoyable film that announces Haghighi as a major talent.” — Eddie Falvey, One Room With a View