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|Index||14 reviews in total|
Once in a while comes along a movie which transcends the medium's boundaries and sets new standards. Bahman Ghobadi's remarkable and riveting new film is one of these rare examples. Made in only 17 days and without a permit, "Persian Cats" is guerrilla film making at its best. It is a faux-documentary, in style of Kiarostami's Close-Up & Panahi's Offside, about the underground music scene in Iran. It is really about the universal power of music and the passion of the youth which know no boundaries. We see that Iranian musicians go to any lengths to defy censorship and restrictions to play their music. They do not need concert halls. They play anywhere: from metro stations to cow sheds and for anyone who wants to listen. Music and lyrics for the young Iranians has become a desperate, but at the same time powerful, means of expression and communication with the world at large. The music played in the film is very powerful and its range is quite remarkable. We see bands playing jazz, pop, heavy metal, rap and singing in both Farsi and English. Ghobadi's film manages to convey all the passion, energy, anger and hope that is contained in these music. It is a brave, and undoubtedly controversial film (specially with the the two leads seeking asylum in the west and Kiarostami denouncing the film), made with so much passion that the viewers can not remain unmoved. It is masterfully directed and photographed and brilliantly edited. A masterpiece which is certain to become another milestone in the history of Iranian and world cinema. Absolutely unmissable.
I must begin my review that the film's title is absolutely appropriate
to the entire story. It's sad to know how talented people in Iran are
forced to shelter their love for music and film. Throughout the film
Negar and her band make various efforts to embark overseas in order to
showcase their musical genius. This film clearly shows how anyone and
everyone who is Iranian are looking for freedom outside Iran (even if
they are blind). Iran not only restricts your talent but also your
What I liked the most about the entire film-making is that sad and negative characters such as police and Islamic police were covered away from the screen which was not visual. Hence this film is in a clear war with the negative energy that lurks in Iran, which in all its free creative power pushes away the sinners (in this case the police or the Islamic police).
The film's soundtrack is excellent and worth listening to. The soundtrack covers all the genres from Rock to R&B. If you are a lover of international independent art film production, then you will appreciate all the hard work put in by the films cast and crew.
PS. I watched this film in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and I was all alone in the cinema.
My score: 9 out of 10
This movie confirmed and strengthened my optimistic vision that Iran
will be the place where the Middle East will start healing itself. It
also reinforced my dream that maybe one day I'll be able to visit this
amazing country and meet its wonderful people . Now I also know there
will be great music to listen to. The movie emphasizes the connections
of the Iranians to their own land as well as their desire to open up to
the rest of the world. That, to me, is the key to planetary healing
everywhere, and there's no better force than music to help bring that
O.A. from Israel
Music speaks a universal language and is one that cannot be chained by any form of oppression. It is this fact that is highlighted ever so poignantly by Bahman Ghobadi, in this heart breaking story of the travails of the aspiring independent musicians of Iran. Effortlessly encompassing various genres like rock, jazz, metal and rap into its soundtrack, neatly blended in with breathtakingly beautiful camera-work of the many worlds in Tehran, it gives us a glimpse into the struggle of the youth seeking the freedom of expression. There is also a sense of frustration and anguish while watching the lengths to which the characters have to go to be able to pursue their passion, and that is sensitively captured in a way, that makes your heart go out for them. The performances are natural and unencumbered by the demands of formal acting, and the songs and lyrics are delightfully fresh and evocative. The story which though narrated in the documentary style, is never taxing at any point, and would transport even the most cynical of viewers on a journey of hope and a quest for freedom and release. But in the end, it is the elegant simplicity with which the director deals with a serious, complex issue that really makes this film stand out. This is truly good cinema at many levels and is certainly worth every minute of the time you spend with it.
This wonderful film feels more like half film and half documentary. We
follow the main couple (Negar & Ashkan) as they hunt around to be able
to get passports to enable them to get to London for a music gig and
get away from Iran.
Their band plays Indie Rock music and they take us through the underground landscape in Iran showing us a metal band and other alternative bands who have to play their music hidden from the authorities (who otherwise would jail them and take away their instruments).
The music is surprisingly quite brilliant and you will empathise with the musicians. One of the best parts of the films is a rap song done by a local artist which takes us on a journey through life in Tehran showing us life at street level for people there. It was worth it alone.
As for acting and story, it's very good and simple. You see the frustration of all as they fight to live a free life in an atmosphere of fear. You can just feel the tension at times. Our leads really never over do it as could have been the risk in such a movie, but they are very ably assisted by a wonderful vast myriad of characters in the film which never seem to step on each others toes. It's like you have just met the whole family.
It's a terrific film and very enlightening. It's also very humbling, and one I would recommend you give a chance. Definitely more deserve to hear about the Persian Cats.
If you saw 'Heavy Metal In Baghdad' a couple of years ago, you'll know that it is near impossible to be a rock & roll musician in an country that is ruled by Islamic law. Bahman Ghobadi's grim,but fine film,'Kasi az gorbehaye Irani khabar nadareh',released in English speaking countries as 'No One Knows About Persian Cats' will certainly cement that reputation. Filmed on the fly in something like 17 days, without official government say so (which actually did land some of the crew in jail),with borrowed camera equipment (most,if not all films shot in Iran have to be filmed with official government equipment). The results:the film is officially banned in Iran (big surprise?---no surprise,what so ever). The story concerns a cadre of young Iranians who want to form a band to rock out & bring joy to fellow young Iranians (heavens forbid!!!). Most of the film centers on Negar Shaghaghi & Ashkan Koshanejad (playing themselves),two budding indie rockers who form a band with the hopes of playing a big open air festival in London,England (and to get the hell out of Iran,forever). With the help of Nadar (played by Hamed Behdad),a kindly,but not too trust worthy sort who wants to act as manager of the band (he deals in bootlegged/pirated DVD's),tries to get Visas & Passports for everybody in the band. Will Negar & Ashkan see their hopes come to some sort of fruition,or will government censorship of popular culture throw the usual roadblock in their way?. Bahman Gobadi (A Time For Drunken Horses),in addition to directing,co writes the screenplay with his girl friend,Roxanne Saben (who was recently released from a jail sentence for spying),as well as set designer. I admired the film's documentary look (key scenes are shot with hand held cameras),with some fast cut editing. A film to get your dander up & make you think (and pity)the poor souls who have to deal with the daily dose of government b.s. Spoken in Farsi & Persian with English subtitles. Not rated by the MPAA,this film contains a bit of drug abuse,and a couple of unfortunate deaths
Though tied together with a narrative string, this is really a largely humorous guided tour of the popular music scene in Iran and the blind idiocy of current restrictions and censorship. As usual in such circumstances, corruption thrives within local administration and the dictates of rigid ideology can be avoided by greasing the right palms or knowing the right people. The joke is that the musicians, though passionate and brilliant are not extreme political militants, they're more Bob Seger than Bob Dylan and their ambitions are not overthrowing the government, but playing their own kind of music. This involves numerous complexities such as frightening cows and waiting around for the miserable chap next door to go out for work. Filmed under less than ideal circumstances, the fact that the storyline, dialogue and acting is occasionally reminiscent of an early Cliff Richard film can perhaps be brushed aside. The humour and levity underline very serious issues and the music is fantastic. In my view the best musical documentary film since Buena Vista Social Club.
I love movies about music, just thought you should know this at first.
But this movie stands out both on its music and also its storytelling. Nobody Knows tells the story of a group of teenagers who play in an underground rock band in Iran and want to either get to perform a concert or leave the country.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of Persian music whether it's rock, rap or pop, I find it too simple to listen to. So, it was a great feeling when I heard the songs of this movie, my favorites being the Hichkas rap and the acoustic guitar scene and I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to hear some good music just as well.
The actings are all really above good the best clearly delivered by Hamed Behdad who stole the court scene and made one of my favorite movie scenes of all time.
All in all, this is a must-see for anyone who wants to both have a good time and hear a nice bitter story.
Once is the movie it most represents, but like I said it's far more bitter than the former.
Outstanding; Iran's got SOME TALENT! all the music is smart, rich and exotic.The image!! JUST PERFECT! Such a GREAT FILM!I loved the choice of rushes along with the songs. Bahaman Ghobadi! You became one of my idols along with kiarostami !! The cast: I have a problem with Negar. She really has to show some more feelings and energy in her acting she has a weaker singing voice than all the rest of musicians. She needs to work on her articulations and her voice. Ashcan was good, Nader was off the hook, amazing! All the bands are Great however 2 musical performances gave me goose bumps: Mirza band's Emshab and Rana Farhan's Drunk with love. The movie is a success and is worth all the prizes it won. Iranian cinema is a school itself. Not only i have respect to the cinema in Iran, after watching this movie I got captivated by the exotic and rich music they have. Censure and prohibition in their case helped their works and they were strong enough to rise above and come up with such exquisite art full of taste, feelings and professionalism. Thumbs up Iran!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
An independent Iranian film about Tehran's underground forbidden
pop-rock scene directed by Bahman Ghobadi. The movie follows young
indie-rock artists Ashklan & Negar (played by Ashkan Kooshanejad and
Negar Saghaghi respectively) in their quest to get passports, visas and
the band members necessary to travel overseas and perform in Nice, and
the work of their passionate cheeky "agent" Nader (played by Hamed
The film showcases the musical talent and variety of styles of the pop-rock scene in Iran, and their struggle to create, practice, and perform in a country that considers that sort of music an anti-Islamic anti-Iranian activity. The movie is fresh and shows how Music has no boundaries, has an international language, serves to free the spirit and mind, catalyzes discontent and express individualism - Music as a subversive peaceful movement. The bands and performers featured in the film, beyond the leading couple, are: Take It Easy Hospital, Rana Farhan, Hichkas, The Yellow Dogs Band, Shervin Najafian, Ash Koosha, Mirza, The Free Keys, Mahdyar Aghajani, Darkoob, Hamed Seyed Javadi, and Nik Aein Band.
The performance of each song is accompanied by a selection of randomly filmed shots of the streets of Tehran, which provide the viewer with a real view of the country - one that is not complacent or hedonistic, but warm and hard at the same time. Four moments deserve a special mention. The first one is the performance of a heavy-metal band in a cow shed, with the cows attending the performance, which I found very funny. The second moment is truly special, and revolves about the lessons that a volunteer musician gives to a group of foreign immigrant children; thy seem enthralled and moved by what they are hearing and their faces show that. The most daring and authentically revolutionary performance comes from rapper Rap Khon, with offers a great performance with raw and heartfelt lyrics. Finally, the performance of jazz-blues soloist Rana Farhan, who has an exquisite voice and world-class talent.
Among the acting moments, I found Hamed's discussion with the police officer after his detention hilarious! The main problem with the movie is the poor acting abilities of the musicians playing actors, which could have been excused if the script was less simplistic and the story had contextualized its characters. For example, we don't know if they are posh rich kids or middle class kids, we don't know if they are students, workers, live with their parents, are married or engaged, what are the feelings of their family and friends about their music. They are left to scattered comments that, nevertheless, don't show the reality of the musicians in Iran when they are not composing of playing. In fact, the relationship between the leading couple is not even clearly established; they seem to be engaged, but we are not told. The musicians in the movie seem to live in a world where nothing but music matters, which can be true for musicians, but this type of music is forbidden in Iran,and society is very oppressive, so we just want to know more about their situation and real lives so we can understand the musicians better. Moreover, the girls wear a head scarf all the time, even in secret alternative concerts and parties where they drink and smoke. How does a woman fit in the underground musical scene in Iran is never explained. Nagar seems to be accessory to Ashkan and her relations with the other musicians are always through Ashkan, never direct or even warm.
The second problem, to me, is that the movie, despite its freshness and charm, feels more like a documentary, but it is not. I would have preferred the latter, as we would have seem mostly the same people and the same performances and avoid the weaknesses of the script. We love the characters since we meet them for what they are, so why force them to act when they can't? By the way, I couldn't see this movie without remembering the music-black market in the animation movie Persepolis, which puts into a context how things got so far in Iran regarding music. The context that was missing from this movie.
A charming fresh and interesting film with great musical performances, but with a poor script.
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