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Films from Iran
by Birgit Schrumpf

At this year’s Filmfest Hamburg, we were shown the following four movies made by Iranian filmmakers. Despite the desperate situation of censorship for artists in Iran they succeeded in bringing their films to Europe, sharing their ideas and inspiration with us.

The White Meadows
This is a visually impressive film. Lonely landscapes of barren dessert and an eerie atmosphere of the salt lake emphasize feelings rather than reality. The metaphorical fairy tale is open for a variety of interpretations. Many scenes remind me of the “absurd theatre” but are not without subtle humour (like the man living in a hut on top of a rock surrounded by a milky white sea).

Tehran Without Permission
The young Iranian filmmaker Sepideh Farsi, now living in France, had the innovative idea to film with her mobile phone. This gave her the opportunity to unobtrusively get close to people in the streets of Tehran, to record interviews in taxis and in restaurants. As a result, the quality of the film is often blurred on the big screen but the topical subject (particularly as Iran’s unrest after the election is much in the news) makes up for it.

No One Knows About Persian Cats
Listening to rock music is illegal in Iran, and forming a band will get you a prison sentence. But it is impossible to stop youngsters playing which forces the music scene to go underground. They truly play “under ground” in cellars where no neighbours can spy on them. Playing a session amongst cows adds some funny situations to a serious subject. To leave Iran’s strict censorship behind and to find a way into Europe is always a dream.

During the reign of the Taliban millions of Afghans fled to Iran. The plight of refugees, integration, and the difficulty of being accepted is painfully felt by the young lovers from two different cultures. It is a frustrating but – sadly – universal situation.