No One Knows About Persian Cats

Last year’s charade election in Iran laid bare the stark reality in that country for not only the rest of the world but also for many of the usually apathetic Iranians inside Iran. The friction between the oppressed and their oppressors reached a climax with street protests and violent clashes.

After a few weeks of shocking dismay, the powerful control apparatus put in place by the Basiji, the Revolutionary Guards and Ahmadinejad clamped down and eventually snuffed out the protests. But don’t mistake the tranquility on Tehran streets as a sign that everything is back to normal. The turmoil in Iran is simmering under the surface, ready to boil over at a moment’s notice. This is far from over.

Amidst this historic upheaval, the acclaimed film director Bahman Ghobadi made his latest work: “No One Knows About Persian Cats”. Like most Iranian cinema it defies classification being more a documentary than film. It chronicles the lives of a group of young Iranian musicians struggling against the stiffing oppression that prevents them from even playing the music they like.

The film was the winner of the Special Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival and was written in collaboration with Roxana Saberi (Ghobadi’s fiance), who as you might recall, was arrested and imprisoned on charges of espionage. I haven’t watched the movie yet but this clip featuring a Persian rapper is mesmerizing (pause if you need to, to be able to read what he is saying):

The ruling mullahs are afraid of the power of music like this. And for good reason. The video above is just one of the musicians featured in the film. All of them decided to leave Iran (and not to return from Cannes) expect the man rapping in this clip. Click to watch the trailer for “No One Knows About Persian Cats” or this alternative trailer:

This theme of leaving Iran to the decrepit cleptocracy is one that I’ve written about more than a few times already. Iran is bursting at the seams with youth who are brimming with potential. The problem is that the country has been organized in such a way to snuff out any and all hope and progress. Your average Iranian youth, like the ones above, have no qualms about leaving Iran in order to create a better life. Even Baha’is are doing so every day in groups.

My only bone to pick is with the Baha’i administration that actively pursues a policy to keep as many Baha’is inside Iran as possible. No matter how dangerous the consequences may be for them. Anyway, if you can catch Ghobadi’s latest work in your local cinema, don’t miss the chance.

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com/ Amanda

    Baquia, you wrote:

    “After a few weeks of shocking dismay, the powerful control apparatus put in place by the Basiji, the Revolutionary Guards and Ahmadinejad clamped down and eventually snuffed out the protests.”

    I recognize that you go on to write:

    “But don’t mistake the tranquility on Tehran streets as a sign that everything is back to normal. The turmoil in Iran is simmering under the surface, ready to boil over at a moment’s notice. This is far from over.”

    I don't think it's fair or accurate to call the protests that have been ongoing since summer (though changed) “snuffed out.” 22 Bahman was certainly sobering- but Qods day, 13 Aban, and Ashura didn't take place in the immediate weeks after the election, and were not insignificant events. I don't disagree with your analysis that things are “far from over,” so we probably ultimately agree, and this might be semantic, but given how little Western media coverage the activities of the un-snuffed out protest movement have received since summer, I think that's worth clarifying here.

    Glad to see you posting again.

  • Baquia

    I was thinking of the ineffective protests (or lack thereof) on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution. This was a major test, in my book at least. The green movement was unable to create the same momentum and with a few new moves to clamp down on the internet, IMs, cell phones and other methods of modern communication, the government was able to easily dominate the day.

  • Anonymous

    At least the Baha’i Administrative order is getting what it wants. Lot’s of publicity and new enrollments. Just wait until the end of Baha’i Year for the announcements and the crowing.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Anonymous

    Sorry for double post.

  • randyburns

    Meanwhile the Baha'i Administrative order is getting what it wants. Publicity and new enrollments in the US and probably other western countries. Just wait until the end of Baha'i year for the announcements and the crowing.

    Cheers, Randy

  • peyamb

    One thing is for sure, the powers that be will not be able to hold that power by appealing to Islamic fundamentalism. The youth of Iran are sick of it. But what they may turn to is Iranian nationalism to gain control with a sector of the youth. That would be troubling. But the bottom line will be if they can profice opportunities. If the economy doesn't get better- then the tide will surely turn on the mullahs.

  • http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/afghanstar/ Zeitgeist Films

    http://www.zeitgeistfilms.com/afghanstar/

    DVD Release – March 30th, 2010!

    If you're intrigued by the premise of No One Knows About Persian Cats, save AFGHAN STAR to your Netflix queue in the mean time!!!

    Whereas shows like ?American Idol’ are and have been prevalent in mainstream media in the US since the birth of television programming, it was not too long ago that bans on TV sets and music were lifted in Afghanistan. Even so, the controversies that have arisen amidst the show’s popularity reveals that self-expression in the country is still risky – even life-threatening – especially for the women contestants who are willing to skirt the boundaries between the freedom of expression and the cultural implications of doing so.

  • Pingback: Roxana Saberi – Between Two Worlds | Baha'i Rants

  • fubar

    which is probably roughly what will happen in the USA if the system collapses (further?) and some kind of totalitarian/corporatist regime is set up to “maintain order”?