Monday, September 14, 2009

My Tehran for Sale

Showing at the Toronto International Film Festival: My Tehran for Sale, directed by Granaz Moussavi

Synopsis from the TIFF website:

When it comes to our impressions of world events, few of us have the opportunity or, frankly, the inclination to dig beyond mass media. In My Tehran for Sale, first-time Australian-Iranian filmmaker Granaz Moussavimakes a highly personal attempt to show the world a side of Iranian youth never portrayed in the media. Filmed at great risk to all involved, My Tehran for Sale reveals the complex double lives led by many modern Iranian youth who must struggle for cultural freedom.

Since arriving in Australia with her family in 1997 at the age of twenty-three, Moussavi has often been deeply dissatisfied with the one-dimensional portrayal of her country and its people in the Western media. In 2006, following numerous discussions with friend and actress Marzieh Vafamehr, as well as support from the Adelaide Film Festival and South Australian Film Corporation, and renowned Iranian filmmakers Bahman Ghobadi and Abbas Kiarostami, Moussavi found a way to express a fictionalized, yet highly personal story.

Marzieh (Vafamehr) is a young actress working in Tehran. When the authorities ban her theatrical work, she is forced to lead a secret artistic life. At an underground rave, she meets Saman (Amir Chegini), an Iranian now living in Australia, and they soon become engaged. In addition to having their personal lives fulfilled by falling in love, the couple know that if Marzieh's visa application to Australia is successful, she will also have the opportunity to experience true artistic freedom for the first time in her life. This optimism is momentary, however, because extraordinary and unforeseen circumstances soon force Marzieh into making a series of life-threatening and unthinkable choices.

Given the stringent conditions under which the film was made, it is something of a miracle that it was finished at all. Marzieh's world comes to life in the hands of the luminous and outrageously expressive Vafamehr, whose every move is adored by the camera. Enhanced by a wonderful score that includes works by contemporary Iranian musician Mohsen Namjou, the aches and triumphs of Marzieh's story show us another side of Iran's culture – one that we need to see.

The film's website is here.

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