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Year: 2003
UK: Tartan Films
Cast: Agheleh Rezaei, Agheleh Farahmand, Bibigol Asef, Sima Asef, haji Rahmodin, Razi Mohebi, Azizola Vakil, Kaveh Moeinfar, Samira Makhmalbaf, Marziyeh Meshkini, Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Director: Hana Makhmalbaf
Country: Iran
Language: Farsi (English subtitles)
UK: 73 mins
UK Certificate: PG contains one mild sex reference
UK Release Date: 16 July 2004 (Limited Release - London)


JOY OF MADNESS continues the unstoppable progress of the Makhmalbaf filmmaking dynasty. Shot on digital video, the first feature length film by 14 year-old Hana, apparently follows her older sister Samira as she is making her latest film, AT FIVE IN THE AFTERNOON, in war-scarred Kabul, and shows specifically the difficulties she faced in casting the film. But, according to its director, JOY OF MADNESS should not simply be read as a behind the scenes documentary, but rather as an independent film exposing the fear and anxiety which is rife in post Taliban Afghanistan.

Hana Makhmalbaf became the world's youngest feature film director when JOY OF MADNESS was accepted to screen at the Venice Film Festival in 2003. This record had previously been held by Samira Makhmalbaf, who was just 17 when she made her first feature, THE APPLE.

An immensely revealing document about the social conventions and self-censorship which make filming in Afghanistan a challenge, JOY OF MADNESS offers an illuminating glimpse at close quarters of a remarkable filmmaker triumphing over great adversity, as well as an uncompromising, provocative and sometimes blackly funny insight into the fears, hopes and courage of the women of Afghanistan.

One of the key motifs in Iranian cinema is cinema that interrogates itself. For this reason, works such as CLOSE UP and THROUGH THE OLIVE TREES by Abbas Kiarostami, SALAAM CINEMA by Moshen Makhmalbaf or THE MIRROR by Jafar Panahi are symbolically concentrated on the making of films. Hana Makhmalbaf's fascinating JOY OF MADNESS follows this tradition. The allusive and elusive borders between reality and fiction assume an even more emblematic value in the female Afghan world.

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