Archive of films Secret Ballot / Raye makhfi

Iran / Italy
2001, 100 min

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Year: 2002

This visually impressive Iranian work is a road movie featuring a soldier and a woman who is to oversee election fairness in an isolated and barren region. Their travels lead them to a mutual reappraisal of their entirely contrary and settled opinions. It took Best Director in Venice last year, and the FIPRESCI Special Mention at the festival in London.


A soldier stationed at a lonely seaside post is awakened by the parachuting fall of a ballot box. Today will be different from the interminable string of days that have come before: it’s election day! The soldier awaits the arrival of the state agent who is to oversee the fairness of elections in the region. The agent arrives, but to his great surprise it’s a woman. The soldier has orders to accompany her the entire day, taking her to every residence within striking distance. He’s aghast at the thought of “serving” a woman, being subordinate to her. In contrast, she slights the traditions entrenched in the local family structure, and is idealistically convinced that everyone should vote because that’s the only way to improve living standards. This is a visually impressive road movie about two very different people drawn to each other and to a reappraisal of their antithetical opinions and approaches to life. The journey leads them to dialogue and mutual understanding, and then even toward the possibility of democracy. Best Director Prize in Venice last year, and the FIPRESCI Special Mention at the festival in London.

About the director

Babak Payami (b. 1966, Teheran) studied film theory at the University of Toronto in the early nineties. In 1998, after almost twenty years abroad, he returned home to Iran to shoot his feature debut One More Day. The film was screened in Berlin (Panorama) in 2000, and won the Special Jury Prize in Turin and the Best Artistic Contribution Award in Tokyo later the same year. Secret Ballot is the director’s second feature, and last year it took Best Director at Venice and the FIPRESCI Special Prize at the festival in London.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Horizons - Awarded Films
Director: Babak Payami
Screenplay: Babak Payami
Dir. of Photography: Farzad Jodat
Music: Michael Galasso
Editor: Babak Karimi a.m.c.
Producer: Marco Müller, Babak Payami
Production: Payam Films, Fabrica Cinema, e Sharmshir
Cast: Nassim Abdi, Cyrus Abidi, Youssef Habashi, Farrokh, Shojaii, Gholbahar Janghali

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