Film Synopsis


Synopsis of films

Abbas in Iran
Directed by Mohammed Sadrzadeh
26 mins.

Iranian born, world-wide acclaimed, Magnum photographer Abbas, shares his life of photography and the influences that shaped his career in different war zones across the world, as well as Iran. His acclaimed 70's coverage of the Revolution is well documented and provides poignant images of Iran's past. He describes himself as a snake winding his way through the world to capture images and because of his photographer's eye. Dispensing advice to a group of Iranian photography students, his most remarkable bon-mots remain 'always have a good pair of shoes and fall in love.

Directed by Fariba Amini
45 mins.

In August 2005, Fariba Amini and Ahmad Shayegan set out to visit the residence of Dr Mohammad Mossadegh in the village of Ahmad Abad, near Karaj where Dr Mossadegh lived and was exiled for ten years after the CIA coup which toppled his government. Dr Mossadegh died and was buried in Ahmad Abad in 1345/1966. This property has enormous historical significance to the people of Iran and to all those who continue to fight for freedom and the return of secular democracy to the country. Ahmad Abad has been more or less preserved from the time when Dr Mossadegh lived there and contains many photos and mementos such as his vintage automobile which is on display there. However, the property itself has been the victim of neglect and has fallen into disrepair. Soon this treasure of Iranian history may cease to exist. This film seeks to commemorate Dr Mossadegh and show the viewer the place where he lived an worked during the last period of his life, offering insight into his personal life and character.

Distribution contact: Fariba Amini,

Back Vocal
Directed by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
40 mins.

Twenty-four years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979, there is still a legal prohibition against female singers singing in Iran. However, rumours start to circulate about females being permitted to sing as part of a duet. This new possibility encourages female singers to take initiatives towards the recording and release of their musical albums. Mojtaba Mirtahmasb the director of this documentary film knows most of the musicians and music producers in Iran. Through conducting interviews and talking directly to these people, especially women and young people in Tehran, in this film he tries to show us new Visions and new ways of Life in Iran.

Directed by Nader Afshar Naderi
30 mins.

Documentary about the life of two pastoral nomadic tribes of Zagros mountains range of south west Iran, the Boer-Ahmadi and Bahmei. It presents a lively picture of nomadic life throughout the four seasons. The focus of the film is on acorns and the 'culture' surrounding the arduous tasks involved in their transformation into flour and bread, complete with their associated rituals, songs and poetry. Acorns serve as the common thread at the heart of the struggle nomads face for their daily survival. Women are shown to carry almost all the burden of the processing of the acorns, which is vital to the survival of the tribes during the times of drought and famine. The acorn is considered the mythical 'father' to these tribes, and in its resistance to hard climates symbolises the soul of the brave nomads.

Distribution contact: Elvia Restrepo Castillon;

Behesht Zahra
Directed by Mehran Tamaddon
45 mins.

The Mother of the Martyrs cemetery 'Behesht Zahra' acts as a salvation point for thousands of women who have lost their, sons, husbands and brothers to the Iran-Iraq war and revolution. Each day marble tombs are scrubbed and re-scrubbed, swept and washed, dried, polished, hugged and kissed, cried and prayed over and adorned, creating a community of women to whom this is a second home each Thursday, for as long ago as 22 years. In between the grief though, there is a home life being created within the walls of this small cemetery city, where meals are cooked and tea is drunk and family news is celebrated, in-between filling buckets of water and shedding tears of grief. Some wait to see the spirit of their loved ones rise. Only one woman has and she will never forget it.

Directed by Mohammed Ehsani
17 mins.

An involving documentary-style short about a young girl frantically searching for her missing brother. A beautifully composed short mystery where the sister's desperation and an on the move location set a pacey and absorbing study of impending doom. The missing boy provides a voice over and the heartbreaking reasons for his absence.

But You Speak Such Good English
Directed by Parisa Taghizadeh and Marjan Safinia
23 min.

Parisa Taghizadeh pulls together the best of British Iranian talent from film, TV and comedy to provide insight into life in the UK after the revolution a mass immigration to the UK shore of 30,000 Iranians. Shapi and Peyvand Khorsandi, Omid Djalali, and others describe the anomalies of living in the brave new world and the identity crisis and construction they faced in post-Rushdie Britain.

Distribution contact: Clare Summerfield, Thirty Bird Productions,

Carmen Funebre
Directed by Kazem Mollaei
20 mins.

Teatr Biuro Podrozy (Poland) take their universally acclaimed anti war epic Carmen Funebre to Iran to the 23rd International Fadjr Theatre Festival, Tehran. The response from the audience is overwhelming as it from 80 to 1000 people over three days. The passion play performed on stilts and giant leather-masked warlords towering two metres high give the opening scenes a sense of tangible menace. The fifty minute performance evokes symbols of rape, torture and killing. A thoroughly contemporary view on Iran's own passion play Ta'zieh.

Distribution contact: Jane Frere,

Day Break
Directed by Hamid Rahmanian
83 mins.

Based on real incidents, Day Break's drama documentary pours insight into Iran's hands-on Islamic capital punishment system, where the defendant's fate lies in the hands of the victim's family. Shot inside the grey confinement of a prison, two murderers await their final destination - on the platform of the hangman's noose. Mansour, not yet a father, restless and fraught with remorse, relives his life in a living death. 40 days of purgatorial contemplation and anguish take Mansour to the inner most isolation any human being can face. With every moment neither we, nor he, know Mansour's fate. With that final encounter with the victim's family to end in retribution, will Mansour's repentance count? They must all meet face to face to know. Less about the crime and more about the pain of purgatory, the director takes the audience to an isolated space where we can empathise with the essence of Mansour's self-enmity.

Distribution contact (North Amercia): Cassidy Dimon, Film Movement LLC,
Distribution contact (Rest of the World): Ziba Shapoori, Sheherazad Media Int'l.,

Dream of Flight
Directed by Nacim Pak
43 mins.

This film is about Iranian asylum seekers in Van, Turkey. It is an anthropological approach to the lives of people living in displacement not always out of their own choice, but due to the inevitable circumstances of their journey. This is a film on the less studied subject of people in midway houses. It looks at the quality of the lives of the asylum seekers, their hopes and fears and the local attitude towards them. It encompasses the experience of not only the men but also that of women and children to whom the film gives a special space in which to voice their concerns.

Distribution contact: Nacim Pak,

Directed by Moslem Mansouri
31 mins.

Prostitution in Iran sounds like an anomaly, but is a significant social problem for those pushed to the poverty line through fate, social structures and gender related discrimination. Distressingly, prostitution has become an option for women on all sides of the societal spectrum and Moslem Mansouri's Epitaph leads a frank discussion on the desperation that pushes these Islamic women beyond the boundary. Startlingly we learn that prostitution has transcended its traditional frontiers and married women, as well as, divorcees, widows, children and university students, see it as their only option for survival. Most provocative in Mansouri's film is the description of how authorities, such as the police, torture the prostitutes, lash them, beat them until their limbs break and put them in solitary confinement. This film deals with the literal solitary confinement of these women who question the nature of the State and its religion. They will pass this profession down to another generation, but at what cost to society. The stark images of beautiful young children in 'hejab' juxtaposed against the bare fleshy arms of the women, answers that question.

Golab (Rose Water)
Directed by Nader Afshar Naderi
15 mins.

Documentary on the production of rose water in the village of Ghamsar (near Kashan, Isfahan Province). Rose water is made from a special rose called 'Gole-Mohammadi', and is used for various purposes from cosmetics to cooking to mourning ceremonies. The techniques used are a millennium. The roses are harvested by children and the time of harvest coincides with their school holidays. Three different qualities of rose water are produced depending on the freshness of the flowers. The first extraction is of high quality and is much in demand by international and national cosmetic firms. Other two are used for culinary and mourning purposes.

Distribution contact: Elvia Restrepo Castillon;

Grass, A Nation's Battle for Life
Directed by Merion C Cooper and Ernest B Schoedsack
71 mins.

In 1924, Cooper and Schoedsack hooked up with a journalist and sometime spy Margeuritte Harrison and set off to film an adventure. They found excitement, danger and unparalleled drama in the migration of the Bakhtiari tribe of Persia. Twice a year, more than 50,000 people would make the epic journey over harsh terrain risking life and limb. This film captures that epic event.

Distribution contact: Image Entertainment,

Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
74 mins.

Out of frustration at the standard of education and homework of his own children, Abbas Kiarostami decided to find out why children were not doing well at school in Iran. This absorbing documentary tells the story of each and every child who has a homework problem in the school that he visited. Scared to talk about the reasons, the small seven/eight year olds reveal a more sophisticated reason for their inability to complete their daily task: The ignorance of their own parents. The petrified faces of the children are haunting as they are enchanting, but the future that looms ahead of them glares bare hopelessness. This intricate and captivating documentary is bitter sweet.

I Can't Remember Anything About Afghanistan
Directed by Mehrdad Oskouei
17 mins.

An endearing portrayal of a small school community of refugee children, whose taught prejudices are well inherited and ingrained. The star of this documentary is the inexhaustible school mistress whose sense of humanity and optimistic nature is the catalyst for change and hope. Tajik, Pashtun, Uzbek and Afghan children after a brawl are told to reconcile, but the stories they read out in class reveal that they all miss home and want to go back.

Distribution contact: Ziba Shapoori, Sheherazad Media Int'l.,

Inside Out
Directed by Zohreh Shayesteh
39 mins.

Maria, is a middle-aged single woman with three children. Saman, is a newlywed young man and Arash, is an eighteen-year-old teenager, but they all have something in common. All three are Iranian transsexuals living in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Inside Out is an in depth look at the daily lives of these three individuals as they try to come to terms with their new identities while going through their emotional and physical transformations.

Distribution contact: Zohreh Shayesteh,

Iranian Women Film Makers
Directed by Majid Khabazan
59 mins.

Leading academics and Iranian women film makers discuss and explore the long time struggle for female directors, actors and writer in Iran. London university's Laura Mulvey and Sheila Whitaker alongside Rose Issa, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Tahmineh Milani, Shirin Neshat, Fateme Motamed, Aria, Niki Karimi, Samira Makhmalbaf, provide insight into the restrictions, censorship and political landscape in the their world of film.

Distribution contact: Majid Khabazan,

Directed by Bahman Kiarostami
46 mins.

This film is a study of the traditional classical bowed lute of Persian classical music, theKamancheh, which dates back to ancient times, emanating from the North West of Iran. This small instrument has a hollowed-out hardwood body and a thin fish skin covering. Its four strings would have been silk at one stage but today is metal. The instrument can be seen in paintings at Isfahan being played by a woman seated. Some musicologists credit its invention to the Mongols. 'Kamancheh' means 'little bow' in Persian. The same instrument is called 'Kevançe' in Kurdish and 'Kemençe' in Turkish. Here we see a maestro at work and new classical influences from Asia synthesising effortlessly with the Kamancheh. A well know Indian classical musician Shujaat Khan collaborates, taking the instruments influences and assimilation further.

Distribution contact: Marjaneh Moghimi, Bitumar Productions,

Legacy of the Imam: The Transsexual Rights Movement in Iran
Directed by Kouross Esmaeli
14 mins.

Legacy of the Imam is a work in progress probing the issues of sex and sexuality in Iran. The study is based on interviews with Hojjatolislam Mohammad Mehdi Kariminia, a seminarian in Qom and a specialist on the question of transsexuality and to Islamic Law, and Khatoun Molkara, the first transsexual to obtain the legal permission for her transsexual operation personally from Ayatollah Khomeini. Ms Molkara is the best-known transsexual activist in Iran where she currently leads an NGO dedicated to transsexual support and visibility. There are also interviews with a new layer of young transsexual activists who are coming together and continuing to struggle for greater social acceptance and governmental support. In the shadow of transsexuality is the question of homosexuality which is officially forbidden and punished in the Islamic Republic. This presentation seeks to look at divergent sexualities in Iran in light of the differing attitudes of the Islamic Republic to these two questions. This is particularly interesting considering the fact that the legal and social relationship between transsexuality and homosexuality in Iran is the exact reverse of the West where homosexuality enjoys a greater visibility and acceptance than transsexuality.

Distribution contact: Kouross Esmaeli,

My Mother's Country
Directed by Tina Ghaffari
24 mins.

Over 20 years ago, at the age of 6, director Tina Ghaffari left Iran and her mother, to live with her father abroad. She has not seen her mother or homeland since. This intensely personal film follows her as she returns to Iran to confront her past and understand why her mother sent her away. As well as filming her own experiences, Tina employs actors to re-enact some of her emotions in order to facilitate communication between mother and daughter. As they begin to communicate, Tina drops a bombshell.

Distribution contact: Craig Wilson, Bridge and Tunnel Productions,

My Mother's Home Lagoon
Directed by Mehrdad Oskouei
28 mins

A desperate story of survival and harshity in a bewilderingly dark world on a murky lake. This film is dedicated 'To those whom nothing is ever dedicated', says the title. A peasant fisher-woman struggles to provide for her invalid mother in a world where she is regarded as a third class citizen. A victim of robbery and an outcast, scavenging for fish she must beat off male marauders who would kill her if they could. No-one wants to help her daily survival. She must catch fish to sell at market, but her mind is on the impending celebration of Nawroz. Desperate and very sad.

Distribution contact: Ziba Shapoori, Sheherazad Media Int'l.,

Nose, Iranian Style
Directed by Mehrdad Oskouei
52 mins.

A fascinating look at how the cult of Rhinoplasty (or 'Nose-Job') is sweeping through contemporary Iranian youth culture, where in some cases it is seen as a passport to a better future or husband even. The startling statistic that Iran has the highest rate of nose surgery, calls into question the dichotomy of the Revolution's values and its struggle in the face of global influences. An LA based satellite TV station beams its sugar coated ideals and fashions East-wards and there's no stopping its influence on the next generation. A young boy undergoes surgery only to come back for more and another loses his girlfriend, because she thinks he will run off with a prettier girl - now that he's got a new nose. But an underlining message comes through with irony and humour: This body fascism is the only thing the youth have control over. Meanwhile the pharmacists are in full business by the look of the number of noses in bandage on the streets.

Distribution contact: Ziba Shapoori, Sheherazad Media Int'l.,

Off Beat
Directed by Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
45 mins.

In 2002, Iran enforced numerous restrictions on performing rock concerts. This creative oppression inspired a ten-member group of music fans to hold a contest on the Internet for Tehran's underground music bands (Musighiyeh Zirzamini). For the first time after Islamic Revolution of Iran Mojtaba Mirtahmasb director of this film tries to find and interview these young underground rock music groups in Tehran. The film shows the director's personal inquiry into and contemplation of the contemporary situation of art, music and youth in Iran.

Persian Gardens
Directed by Bahman Kiarostami
45 min.

Persian Garden, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the largest and most ambitious art exhibition in Iran since the 1979 Revolution. Curator Faryar Javaherian invited over thirty renowned Iranian artists to respond to a theme that is paramount to Iranian history and culture: The Persian garden. Ancient Wisdom, New Vision, which opened at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in September 2004, attracted record crowds. The exhibition included painting, architecture, photography, video art, installations, conceptual art, music, performance, and environmental art.

Distribution contact: Marjaneh Moghimi, Bitumar Productions,

Directed by Bahman Kiarostami
52 mins.

Shia is the majority religion of both Iran and Iraq. A Sunni Muslim, Saddam Hussein severely restricted pilgrimages from Iran to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala. Iranian visitors could only make arrangements through special travel agencies and while in the holy cities, were always under the intense scrutiny of Saddam's security Services. Visitors could only stay for three days. Pilgrimages were not permitted during the Iran-Iraq War from 1980-8. Iran closed its border with Iraq in March 2003 with the onset of US forces, but reopened it in September 2003 to reduce illegal crossings. The film captures the experiences of Iranians trying to reach the holy cities.

Distribution contact: Marjaneh Moghimi, Bitumar Productions,

Red Lines and Deadlines
Directed by Taghi Amirani
55 mins.

Taghi Amirani takes an inside look at Shargh, Iran's leading reformist newspaper, as its journalists go about the almost impossible task of meeting daily deadlines whilst keeping within the 'red lines' of the censor's pen. With its youthful staff, high number of female journalists and a commitment to professional journalism, Shargh is a lightning rod for censorship. And there are severe consequences to attracting the attention of the country's censors: In the past five years, over a hundred reformist newspapers have been shut down.Shargh's own editors scrupulously evaluate all their articles, trying to ensure against crossing any 'red lines', which is what Iranian journalists call the strict but ill-defined boundaries that mark the topics, opinions and even writing styles considered off-limits. The film documents three weeks in the life of this remarkable newspaper, following reporters on stories ranging from Saddam Hussein's first appearance in court, to the trial of a history professor sentenced to death for criticising the ruling clerics, to the death of Marlon Brando. There is even a rare glimpse of the inner workings of the Iranian parliament. The story of these daring journalists, who struggle to report the news without incurring the 'blade of censorship', offers powerful insights into the complexities of today's Iran.

Distribution contact: Taghi Amirani, Amirani Films,

Serial Killer in Iran
Directed by Maziar Bahari
60 mins.

Hamaei confessed to the killings of 16 prostitutes. At is trial he smiled at the news photographers and told them proudly that he was fighting a crusade against corruption. This case provoked a debate between reformers who condemned the authorities for failing to catch him earlier and some conservatives who shared the killer's disgust for prostitution.

Distribution contact: Maziar Bahari,

Directed by Hamid Rahmanian
55 mins.

Melissa who was visiting her new husband's family in Tehran, 2000. She was befriended by Shahrbanoo who has been moonlighting as her mother-in-law's housekeeper for more than a quarter of a century without the knowledge of her own family. Shahrbanoo invites Melissa to a family gathering where she is treated to an intense cultural exchange about subjects ranging from women's place in society to American foreign policy. But this is not a movie about politics. It is a heart-warming, alternatively hilarious, harrowing and heartrending, testimony to the hidden ties that connect us across vast cultural gulfs.

Distribution contact: Melissa Hibbard, Prometheus Cinema,

Sir Alfred of Charles de Gaulle Airport
Directed by Hamid Rahmanian
29 mins.

Mehran Karemi Nasseri, who now goes be the name Sir Alfred, has been living in the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. For the past twelve years he has been waiting for the document that would allow him to leave. Unlike the story that has been told in the world press of a man trapped in the underground terminals of an airport, dubbed the strangest case in immigration history, this documentary examines the life of a man whose only aspiration is to be somebody else.

Distribution contact: Melissa Hibbard, Prometheus Cinema,

Standard Bearers of Hussein
Directed by Ingvild Flaskerud
35 mins.

In parallel to Shia-Muslim men's mourning ceremonies during Muharram and Safar, women gathering gender-specific rituals acting as hosts, leaders, assistants, servants, lay participants, and financial supporters. In the present film we meet two women who often host rituals in their home and or in a privately owned Husseinieh. We also meet on of the ritual leaders whom they invite to lead ceremonies. The film shows how the historical event of the battle at Karbala can acquire meta-historical meaning. Specifically, that commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein and his family members are being linked to redemption on the day of judgement and to intercession from holy mediators in this life. Various forms of locally developed aesthetics expressions and ritual objects are used as vehicles for communicating with the spiritual realm. A ritual structure is developed to secure the fulfilment of the rituals' function. As such, these ritual performances can be profoundly spiritual, while at the same time connecting to social issues of contemporary Iran. Moreover, they connected to the brother Shia-Muslim tradition, historically and geographically.

Distribution contact: Pedram Khosronejad,

Ta'zieh, Another Narration
Directed by Parviz Jahed
74 mins.

In this documentary about the ancient traditional Ta'zieh, the theatrical religious 'Passion Play', experts and theorists critique and scrutinize a form, which is performed across Iran in thousands of rural villages. This film shows one such typical performance against a green hill location, which aptly conjures up the setting for the events that led to the atrocities at Karbala involving the killing of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad in the year 632, his family and his apostles. The film also discusses the creation and development of Ta'zieh in Iran and the conflict of its mythological and religious roots, the means by which the performance involves its audience: The audience participate in the grief of the Iman's death by beating their breasts and mourning and wailing and physically participating in scenes or helping in scenes. It highlights how Ta'zieh uses music and poetry and shouting to differentiate between good and evil characters and shows how some actors empathise with their part to the extent that they will not play other parts. The word ta'zieh actually means mourning and consolation, it is synonymous with the mystic and uproarious beginnings of Shiite history and the bloodshed at Karbala fourteen centuries ago.

Distribution contact: Parviz Jahed,

Ten On Ten
Directed by Abbas Kiarostami
87 mins.

Tracing the route to TEN, Abbas Kiarostami takes us to the heart of his process in creating his films and offers us the whole vision of his film as a sharp reflection of cinema.

Distribution contact: MK2 Distribution,

Thirteen and Half
Directed by Abbas Ahmadi and Nader Davoodi
60 mins.

During the summer of 2004 'Thirteen', a play written and directed by Banafshe Tavanaie, was performed in Tehran for six weeks and was met with standing ovations. The play is about women in the harem of a Qajar king and the predicament that they face when the king decides to marry a foreign wife. Thirteen and Half engages the viewer with the performance of the play while simultaneously providing an insight into the lives of the cast who are all female with the exception of one male actor. This documentary seeks to portray the dichotomy between tradition and modernity as well as how it has shaped the experiences of women living in Iran today.

Distribution contact: Nader Davoodi,

Directed by Moslem Mansouri
30 mins.

This stark portrayal of a refugee community hell takes the audience to a near- graveyard of humanity. The victims that Mansouri's documentary shows us are displaced refugees who fled their cities during the 1979 Revolution and the Iran/ Iraq war, who find themselves in a no-mans land of iniquity where their poverty and starvation is ignored by the government and silenced by an underhand authority. This desperate exposé of a neighbourhood in North West Tehran, builds a harrowing portrait of a community waiting for death to relieve them of an endless existence in a desperate vacuum. A very poignant and heart-rending portrait,Utopia's portrayal of a graveyard of buildings and people, dry heat and dust, starvation and hopelessness is a pitiful reminder of governmental neglect on a mass scale. Even the documentary's children, when asked what the solution is, choose 'death'.