Sweden | 2023 | 119 min. | Milad Alami

Iman, a former wrestler for Iran, is now a refugee in Sweden, waiting for a decision on his petition for asylum. He has claimed political persecution but this isn’t quite the whole story. Telling the truth will mean confronting a different adversary—himself.

Payman Maadi (A Separation) gives a powerhouse performance as Iman, an Iranian refugee in a small town in northern Sweden, waiting with his family for a determination on their petition for asylum. Having abruptly fled Iran, he has claimed political persecution, 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, with his former Iranian teammates, and with his own demons. While their application is pending, Iman delivers pizzas by night and trains with a Swedish team by day. Maryam, pregnant with a third child, tries to normalize the situation for their two young daughters. The family is moved from one tiny temporary apartment to another, housed with other refugees from around the world. The tedium of waiting is punctuated by language lessons, meetings with lawyers and bureaucrats, and occasionally, the forcible deportation of a neighbor whose application has been turned down. All the while, Iman wages his own private battles on the wrestling mat. In this tour-de-force of a second feature, director Milad Alami (The Charmer) has created a compelling character study of a man struggling with multiple opponents, within and outside himself, embodied and abstract, and the strength and courage it takes to do so.

Justine Barda

  • Original Language Title: Motståndaren
  • Director: Milad Alami
  • Principal Cast: Payman Maadi, Marall Nasiri, Björn Elgerd, Ardalan Esmaili
  • Premiere Status: North American
  • Country: Sweden
  • Year: 2023
  • Running Time: 119 min.
  • Producer: Annika Rogells
  • Screenplay: Milad Alami
  • Cinematographers: Sebastian Winterø
  • Editors: Olivia Neergaard-Holm
  • Music: Jon Ekstrand, Carl-Johan Sevedag
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: The Charmer (2017), Nordic Factory (2014)
  • Language: Swedish, Farsi
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • International Sales: Swedish Film Institute, Indie Sales