A Revolution on Canvas (2023)

A Revolution on Canvas (2023)

An Iranian artist looks back on a life of revolutionary and familial struggle in this heartbreaking but illuminating documentary

7.5

Movie

United States of America
English
Documentary
2023
FEMALE DIRECTOR, SARA NODJOUMI
Nahid Hagigat, Nicky Nodjoumi, Sara Nodjoumi
95 min

TLDR

If there’s something I’ve learned from watching one too many docs about tortured male geniuses, it’s that there’s almost always a generous, supportive, and underappreciated woman behind his success.

What it's about

When he fled Iran after the Islamic Revolution, controversial artist Nicky Nodjoumi left many of his crucial paintings in Tehran. In this documentary, his daughter Sara Nodjoumi tries to both retrieve those artworks and reconcile with his distanced father.

The take

Initially, A Revolution on Canvas is about the Nodjoumi family’s quest to retrieve the patriarch’s missing paintings in post-Islamic Revolution Iran. Necessarily, it goes through Nodjoumi’s troubled childhood and shocking life as a resilient revolutionary. But the documentary eventually evolves into a knotty and heartbreaking tale about family, specifically about the sacrifices the partner of a rebel genius like Nodjoumi has to make to let the other shine. Nodjoumi’s daughter, Sara, confronts her father about his absence during their family’s formative years and, more importantly, shines a light on the sacrifices her mother--the artist Nahid Hagigat--had to make to keep them all afloat. The documentary could’ve easily been a straightforward portrait of Nodjoumi, but because it's told through such a specifically intimate lens, it’s elevated into something even more relatable and revealing.

What stands out

It bears repeating: the people (often women) behind touted heroes, revolutionaries, and cultural icons deserve just as much praise.

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