First Take: Sadaf Foroughi on “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

I first saw Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? on a Betamax cassette when I was 8, 9 years old. I remember my aunt had a collection of Betamax cassettes with Persian-dubbed American movies recorded on them. Who’s Afraid… was among those films. It was during the Iran-Iraq war in the ’80s and the whole family gathered together in my aunt’s country house, which everyone thought was safer than the city due to its closeness to the mountain.

I recall my cousins watched at least three films per day to distract themselves from the stress of the situation. I was the youngest and followed them everywhere. We used to watch and rewatch some titles since there was a limited number of films in the collection. There were no other sources to find and watch good films except in the black market, which was very risky due to the fact that, in those days, having a VCR at home was forbidden. Among the titles we watched frequently were My Fair Lady, Jerry Lewis’ The Errand Boy, and, of course, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

When I think now, I can understand how those crisp, black-and-white, masterfully lit images affected my mind as a filmmaker. It was only years later, during my film-school days, that I realized those images belonged to the great Haskell Wexler. And of course, beside Ingmar Bergman, Mike Nichols became one of my beloved heroes in filmmaking.

That last shot of Who’s Afraid…, where the camera tracks towards George and Martha, leaving their figures behind and focusing on the branches outside the window, is in my opinion, one of the greatest endings in film history.

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An Iranian born, Montreal-based filmmaker, Sadaf Foroughi’s debut film, Ava, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and played as an official selection of New Directors / New Films. Based on her own experiences of growing up as a young girl in Iran, Ava will open theatrically across the country this spring. More information is available here.

First Takes: short essays on transformative viewing experiences. Read more entries.

 

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