This is a sweet film full of charm which suggests that social problems can be solved by art and the internet.
A professor from Tehran has made his new home on the island of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. He is establishing a museum for his own art and for art created by the women of the island, using the island's vibrant and distinction soils as pigment for paint. The fishing industry has collapsed and more families have turned to women's labour to make ends meet. The doctor, as he is known, spends much of his time publicizing the island on the internet and social media, encouraging more tourists who will then buy the women's art. His efforts are not appreciated by traditionalists who want everything to stay the way it is. Some distrust his motives, while the local drug dealer does not appreciate the disruption of his trade. We follow several characters as they navigate a path towards the future. Occasionally the film is a little amateurish or clunky but eventually this adds to the charm.
At first, the obstacles thrown up for the success of the museum and the villains created to topple the doctor seemed rather contrived. But the warmheartedness of the film transcends issues of plot and pacing. The positivity of Rainbow Island becomes irresistible. By the end of the film it is easy to believe that the new floods of tourists will arrive and appreciate an evolving island culture with no resulting problems. It is also easy to accept that the local drug dealer only wanted an opportunity to expand his traditional folk art theatre company and now that he is being praised, social problems have disappeared. It is a beautiful vision and a joy to share it for two hours.
Director Khosrow Sinai's film seems to be based somewhat on the figure of Ahmad Nadalian, an environmental artist on Hormuz who established a museum in a former drug den, just as happens in the film. The artist based on him is an intriguing figure, one who trusts others to behave responsibly rather than telling them what to do. While we see little of his art, we do see plenty of women's art and it is visually splendid. In fact the whole island is depicted gloriously, not that the seedy underbelly is ignored.
A repeat screening is on October 12th at 1:45 at the Vancity Theatre.