Published Sep 15, 2009What we usually see of modern-day Iran consists of bleak politics, state-squashed protests, veiled women and whatever else the BBC can come up with. In My Tehran For Sale, first-time Iranian-Australian director Granaz Moussavi has attempted to portray the real goings-on in Iran that never make it past cell phone camera clips on YouTube. The result is a surprising and engaging story that follows young Iranians in their everyday lives and struggles for cultural freedom.
Marzieh is a young actress who's resorted to rehearsing with an underground theatre troupe in Tehran thanks to her less-than-traditional acting tastes. While her days consist of rehearsals, sewing clothes to sell and babysitting the neighbour's kid, her nights aren't so banal. Illegal raves in barn houses and underground blues concerts are a part of the standard double-life lived by Iranian youth. But it doesn't mean the police aren't watching.
The film's first scene depicts a rave that's broken up by faceless men without uniforms. But instead of checking I.D.s for underage boozing they immediately order the women and men to opposite sides of the room, shouting at women to look decent and cover their hair. Once the ravers are all loaded into a bus, they're given their punishment: 35 lashes, to be precise.
Marzieh's story is fictionalized but extremely personal, since it resulted from discussions between Moussavi and friend and actress Marzieh Vafamehr. Vafamehr plays the lead role of Marzieh, and carries the movie with her strong acting and enigmatic style. The score hits home and includes work by contemporary Iranian musician Mohsen Namjou.
What's admirable about My Tehran For Sale is the risk involved in the entire project. After all, much of what they were shooting wasn't exactly legal. It makes for an eye-opening look at a world that's finally getting the chance to be seen. (Cyan)