The movie

Persian Lessons

Gilles a young Jewish Belgian man, is arrested by the SS, to avoid execution he swears to be Persian, then Gilles is assigned a seemingly untenable mission: to teach Farsi to German officer Koch.

Length: 127 min
Country: Belarus, Duitsland, Russische Republiek
Language spoken: Duits, Frans, Italiaans, 'Farsi'
Language subtitles: Nederlands
Cast: Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Lars Eidinger, Jonas Nay
Director: Vadim Perelman
Release date: 2020


‘Inspired by true events’, Vadim Perelman’s Holocaust drama sees Jewish POW Gilles (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, memorable in ‘BPM’) passing as an Iranian in a German concentration camp and then being forced to give camp commander Koch (Lars Eidinger) lessons in Farsi. The only problem is that Gilles doesn’t know a word of Farsi—so he invents a nonsense language… From this intriguing premise, Perelman crafts a taut drama that occasionally reaches absurd and funny heights, despite the horrors going on all around our teacher-student duo. Essentially a two-hander, the film depends on the work of Pérez Biscayart and Eidinger, and both offer superb performances in this striking work. ‘A big, widescreen cinematic ride which deftly mixes suspense, laughter and tears, “Persian Lessons” marks a return to form for Ukrainian-born Canadian director Vadim Perelman... Stirringly scored and shot in a limpid, painterly style, the film seems set in a place entirely cut off from the outside world—which lies somewhere beyond the misty, mossy conifer woods that surround the camp, as if history itself were retreating into fairy tale.’—Lee Marshall, Screen