Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi takes us through the underground music scene in Tehran, where all Western-style music is prohibited. Based on real people, places, and events, Nobody Knows About Persian Cats follows Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad of the indie band Take It Easy Hospital (yes, a real band) as the members attempt to leave home to play a concert in London. They're escorted by a smooth-talking linchpin of the black market, Nader (Hamed Behdad), who promises to find them passports, visas, and additional bandmates.
The film, with its MTV-style music video montages and pop culture references, runs the risk of feeling like a lighthearted documentary. But in the final ten minutes, the tour through Iranian rock makes an abrupt and disturbing turn. Nobody Knows About Persian Cats, which won the Special Jury Prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes, was co-written by Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in jail in 2008 after the Iranian government deemed her a spy.
Sun., June 13, 7:30 p.m., 2010