Tehran Taboo (NR)

Animation 90 min. March 9, 2018
By Sherilyn Connelly
There are many taboos explored in Ali Soozandeh's animated Tehran Taboo, not the least of which is the taboo against filming movies in Tehran about things that are taboo in Tehran.

As such, Iranian-born Soozandeh shot his cast against a green screen in Germany -- where he lives in exile, another barrier to location shooting -- and rotoscoped them into an animated vision of the Iranian capital. Tehran Taboo would almost be too bleak had it been shot as a live-action film, exploring as it does the extreme sexual hypocrisies of the modern Islamic Republic of Iran — and, by extension, all conservative patriarchies.

Soozandeh wastes no time establishing both the hypocrisy of the devout in Iran (or America, or Gilead) and his Short Cuts-ian tapestry of characters: In the opening scene, prostitute Pari (Elmira Rafizadeh) goes down on a cabbie (Farhad Payar) after giving the money to her mute son Elias (Bilal Yasar) in the backseat. The driver sees his daughter walking down the street holding a man's hand. The driver becomes so overcome with rage at his daughter's impropriety -- again, while he is getting blown by a prostitute whose son is in the backseat -- that he crashes the taxi.

Other stories involve marriage and divorce. The quest to either sew up a hymen or purchase a passably fake one before a wedding gets treated as just a normal thing that normal people do in a morally righteous country that -- and this is going to sound cuckoo-bananas, but roll with me here -- may not be quite as concerned with maintaining women's morality as it is with protecting men's frail egos.
Ali Soozandeh Arash Marandi, Alireza Bayram, Siir Eloglu, Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, Hasan Ali Mete, Klaus Ofczarek, Roxana Rahnama, Thomas Nash, Morteza Tavakoli, Rozita Assadollahy Ali Soozandeh Kino Lorber

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