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No One Knows About Persian Cats (2009)
Director: Bahman Ghobadi
Tagline: Cow shed rock!
Sold Out Screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival
Despite being an internationally famous film director, Bahman Ghobadi could not get a permit to make a film in Iran and this film relates his experiences through two musicians Ashkan (Ashkan Koohzad) and Negar (Negar Shaghaghi) who are trying to arrange visas and passports for a show in London.
On the advice of a friend they both go to see Nader (Hamed Behdad), a black marketeer and fix it man who they put a lot of faith in and who is a funny character in his own right, the scene where he argues his way out of a harsh sentence for pirated DVDs was a highlight.
Nader likes their music and also takes it upon himself to introduce them to other musicians he knows around Tehran including one stand out scene where a metal band plays in a cow shed (reminded me of the Melvins video for some reason.)
Negar isn't too sure about the whole thing and complains a lot, upsetting Nader who just happened to be asleep in the rehearsal studio when they arrived for band practice.
There is a sense of impending dread the whole time as the characters know they could be arrested for trying to make music without a permit and knowing the film was shot in the same way only ads to the experience.
This movie really has three different stories in it, the director's personal story that is shared with many artists in Iran, the love story between the two main characters and also the political change that is being demonstrated for by many young people in the wake of the disputed election results recently.
Iran has a high percentage of its population under the age of 30 with all the usual interests you would expect, unfortunately all the older generation are still exerting their control of the country and do not want change and this has led to conflict.
Being heavily into music myself, it is hard to imagine living in a place where even owning CDs could get you arrested. Taking photos of performances would be too dangerous as people would get imprisoned and I wouldn't want to get them in trouble.
Hopefully this film will be seen by a lot of people and makes the statement it is trying to make about artistic freedom in Iran and other countries where the government is controlling the population by trying to censor the problems in the hope they go away.