Art and Experience: Deborah Young one of the Variety critics wrote about “Have You Another Apple?” in 2006: In a weak year for Iranian cinema, Fazil Bayram’s privately produced “Have You Another Apple?” drew attention as the only Iranian film in Venice (there were none in Cannes.) A cross between social comedy and Mad Max, this transparently subversive fantasy about a heroic fool wandering the desert is buttered with some superlative camerawork by Bayram, well-known for his work as a cinematographer.

In a weak year for Iranian cinema, Fazil Bayram’s privately produced “Have You Another Apple?” drew attention as the only Iranian film in Venice (there were none in Cannes.) A cross between social comedy and Mad Max, this transparently subversive fantasy about a heroic fool wandering the desert is buttered with some superlative camerawork by Bayram, well-known for his work as a cinematographer. The film is so obviously an anti-mullah metaphor it is doubtful if it will ever play on home turf, making curious foreign fest audiences its main viewers.

Opening titles set the action in a timeless world where aggressive rulers dominate a compliant, docile population. In a lightning fast opener, tribesmen on horseback sweep across the desert side by side with black motorcycle warriors. These are the feared “dasdaran” or sickle bearers. Their strange black hats recall the Taliban, though religion is officially left out of the film.

While many fall victim to their reign of terror, one villager (stage thesp Zabih Afshar) seems destined to become the hero everyone has been waiting for. Afshar plays him as a shaved-headed idiot interested only in filling his belly, but he can outrun the fastest horses when pursued. He falls in with a much brainier femme (Leila Mousavi, also with a theater background), who can barely put up with his comic antics. Village after village, they awaken the (literally) sleeping populace and get them to rally against the sickle bearers. In Bayram’s honest vision, however, the bad guys are incredibly cunning and the good guys don’t really win. The films ends shrouded in ambiguity.

Shot in northwestern Iran’s Azerbaijan province, the film creates a fantasy world out of village architecture and traditions that never existed. Fairy-tale scenes of a village full of sleepers, or a cemetery dotted with skulls and villagers buried up to their heads, are set against a breathtaking desert backdrop.