Opponent (in-person & online)
Payman Maadi, Marall Nasiri, Björn Elgerd, Ardalan Esmaili
Payman Maadi (A Separation) gives an electrifying performance as an Iranian refugee in small-town northern Sweden in the second feature from The Charmer director Milad Alami.
Iman is waiting for a determination on his family’s asylum petition. He claimed political persecution on fleeing Iran, but this isn’t quite the whole story. When a translator suggests that their case might be stronger if Iman, a former Olympic wrestler, returned to the sport to compete for Sweden, he does so. But this decision brings him into conflict with his wife Maryam (Marall Nasiri), his old Iranian teammates, and his personal demons.
Alami himself immigrated to Sweden from Iran as a child, and Opponent brings home the tedium, exhaustion and occasional panic afforded by asylum systems, with Iman’s family moving from one tiny flat to another, taking language lessons and meeting with lawyers under threat of deportation, while Iman wages his interior battles on the wrestling mat. A compelling, suggestive character study of a man struggling with multiple opponents, within and without, Alami’s meticulously rendered drama is a tense, simmering and fiercely powerful watch.