Runtime: 18 minutes
Director/Writer: Farbod Ardebili
Actors: Mahadeseh Kharaman, Sarina Amiri, Babak Kamangir, Hoorsun Ashkan, Erfan Akbari, Reza Karimi
By Joan Amenn
Since 1979, Western style music, particularly rock and roll, has been banned in Iran. Iranian women are forbidden to sing or perform publicly. This view of Western music and a women’s role in Muslim society has recently been the subject of a humorous series, “We Are Lady Parts” which I reviewed here (https://intheirownleague.com/2021/07/11/review-we-are-lady-parts-season-1/) . While the series takes place in the UK and the main characters risk the disapproval of their families in their pursuit of musical freedom, “Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran” (2021) shows the peril Muslim women face in Iran if they do not toe the line in the patriarchal society.
Opening with two women passing each other in the street and one of them cautioning the other to cover her face gives a chilling sense of foreboding to the film. There is a feeling of impending doom as it becomes apparent that one of the women belongs to a rock band. Obviously, this clandestine lifestyle is dangerous for Shima (Mahadeseh Kharaman) and her band mates. To make matters worse, she has a little sister (Sarina Amiri) who is deaf, so putting herself at risk endangers her vulnerable family as well. Director Farbod Ardebili raises difficult questions about artistic freedom and personal loyalty that there are no easy answers for.
In light of the recent evacuation in Afghanistan, “Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran” is a poignant reminder that not all who have the ability to leave the oppression they face will do so if that means they abandon those who they care about. And there are many who do not have that ability who desperately need assistance in immigrating from the peril of regimes that stifle their basic freedoms.
As brief as this film is, it is a powerful statement in support of women everywhere who struggle to be heard and seen when their own country demands their silence. Look for it at your local film festivals and contact your local government representative urging them to support immigration reform. There is so much more to be done to help refugees who are screaming, if we just try harder to listen.