The film tells the hilarious story of four old friends who, driving back from a failed skiing trip, encounter a strange, enormous rock. The men‘s frivolous attempt to dislodge the rock gradually disintegrates into a tale of betrayal, defeat, and renewed hope.
"(...) At first, one thinks one is watching a film by the great Iranian master Abbas Kiarostami. A car drives along a winding hillside road and one hears, off-screen, the voices of the people inside. But the introductory shot is simply a little inside joke by Mani Haghighi, who for many years was Kiarostami’s assistant, and who bought the concept for MEN AT WORK from him. The plot is simple: On their way home from a skiing trip, four well-to-do, middle-class Iranian men stop for a pee. They notice a phallic rock on the cliffside, and decide to make it plunge into the abyss. This grotesque endeavor becomes a huge undertaking, in- corporating battering rams, rented donkeys, ropes and le- vers. More cars stop, and even the wives get caught up in the overthrow attempt, but the odd rock stays put. It is not only its sense for the comical inanity of existence that makes this digitally-shot film so wonderfully unique; it is also its readiness to rise above the social criticism that the West continually expects from Iranian cinema. The heroes of MEN AT WORK are doctors, engineers and businessmen in the throes of mid-life crises. Their middle-class problems and the absurd phallic rock venture give rise to a kind of humor that leads from Iran’s mountains into other, Becket-tian expanses." —Katja Nicodemus
Mani Haghighi was born on May 4, 1969 in Tehran. At the age of six he acted in his grandfather Ebrahim Golestan‘s film The Secret of the Treasure in the Haunted Valley. In 1984, he and his family left Iran for Canada. In 1988 he entered McGill University, Montreal to study philosophy and theater and directed a number of plays during the following years. He finished his studies with an M.A. in philosophy at Guelph University. In 1994, he returned to Iran and shot in Tehran the primary material for his docu- mentary film, To Stay, which he completed in 2001. In 1998, he entered Trent University, Peterborough, Canada, to study methodology and cultural studies (M.A.). He shot and edited the short film Water, based on The Other, a short story by Jorge Luis Borges. He returned to Iran in 2000 and began making short films and television com- mercials. His debut feature film, Abadan, turned out to be a controversial film in Iran and was shown at a number of international film festivals.
Production: Aftab Negaran Productions Co., Teheran
Script: Mani Haghighi nach einer Idee von Abbas Kiarostami
Camera: Koohyar Kalari
Set design: Amir Esbati
With Attila Pesyani, Mahmoud Kalari, Ahmad Hamed, Omid Rohani, Fatemeh Motamed Arya
Format: 35mm (gedreht auf DVCAM), 1:1.65, Farbe
Length: 75 minutes, 24 Bilder/Sek.