Afterwards, the former voice coach puts the aspirant singer off with a blunt ‘for women, singing in this country is a dead art’, and they all share a banana.
As Akbari’s condition deteriorates, the mood changes, captured in a defining moment that takes place in a cable car, a location that recurs throughout the filmmaker’s work. Here, Akbari is accompanied by actress Behnaz Jafari who – with her head shaved – literally acts as a double or mirror (a bar divides the screen in two), confronting Akbari with the other side of the coin. Full of admiration for Akbari yet unable to be as strong as her, Behnaz – presumably also suffering from cancer – breaks down after the filmmaker recounts the pain she felt the first time she saw a reflection of her body in the mirror after the operation: ‘I couldn’t recognise myself’ she declares.
The themes of representation and identity that also structure 20 Fingers (and to some extent underpin the ‘unnamed version’ of herself Akbari played in Kiarostami’s Ten) are key in the final scene of 10 + 4. In the course of a conversation between a visibly healthy Akbari and a woman who’s fought cancer twice, the latter imparts some advice: if the illness is used to create something good, you are tempting the cancer to come back, and it’s always like a ‘Russian roulette. There are 7 holes, you could win or you could lose each time’. Yet this is the very premise on which the artist’s work – be it art, video, photography, or film – rests.In fact, this conversation could just as easily have taken place before rather than after the filming of 10+4. As such, the main purpose of Akbari’s film would be not so much to bear witness to the filmmaker’s proximity to death, but rather to embalm in time her own self-rediscovery, as well as related concepts such as beauty, pain, death, family, society. Seen this way, Akbari’s testimony wins out against cancer, as she transforms its ravaging power into the defining prism through which the artist looks at the world. #10+4 #maniaakbari #behnazjafari #bodypolitic #womanissues #bodysociety #deadandlife #womanfighter #filmmaker #womanartist #iranianwomanartist