Provoking conversation around sexuality, gender and unconventional family life that has often been silenced in mainstream Iranian society, Ali Soozandeh’s debut film Tehran Taboo uses a saturated palette to animate the intertwined lives of two women, a pill popping male electronic musician and a woman in need of an illegal operation to have her virginity ‘restored’.
The two women at the heart of this film are Pari and Sara, respectively a prostitute and single mother to a mute boy named Elias, and a middle-class mullah hiding a set of personal secrets. Exploring a range of restrictions and sanctions, this is a tale that shows moral and political unfreedoms bringing together an unlikely cast of characters in a situation of mutual support.
Employing a graphic novel aesthetic comparable to Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud's Persepolis (2007), Soozandeh’s use of rotoscope animation, 3D and drawn elements owes not only to artistic preference and training but also to the barriers he would have faced had he tried to shoot the unfoldings of this film in Iran.
Tehran Taboo is the first feature from Iranian-born, German director Ali Soozandeh. Screened in the International Critics' Week section at Cannes Film Festival 2017, it also won the FIPRESCI Prize for best debut at Jerusalem Film Festival last year.
Tehran Taboo, Dir. Ali Soozandeh, Germany/Austria, 2017, 96 mins, Farsi with English subtitles