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directed by Granaz Moussavi
Iran/Australia 2009


Marzieh (Marzieh Vafamehr, BAREFOOT IN HEAVEN) is an actress living in Tehran and experiencing difficulty expressing herself under Iran's repressive regime. She meets Saman (Amir Chegini), an Iranian raised in Australia, at an illegal rave that is soon raided by the authorities. Marzieh and Saman are not rounded up because they hid in the stables, but Marzieh's friend Sadaf (Asha Mehrabi) is arrested. The couple fall in love, and the possibility of emigrating to Australia offers a freer existence; however, when she learns that she is HIV+, the embassy refuses to issue her a visa and her relationship with Saman falls apart. Due to the stigma of the disease in the country (with some of the assumptions of how it is contracted not so different from the still-lingering myths in western countries) and the difficulty in obtaining treatment (practitioners of AIDS-related care in Iran have been imprisoned), Marzieh attempts to seek asylum in Australia, attempting to use footage of the rave raid from Sadaf's lost mobile phone to plead her case. The film is told in flashback as Marzieh - in detention in Adelaide - pleads her case (partially in English and partially through an interpreter [Hadi Mansouri]) to an Australian bureaucrat (Sandy Cameron).

Shot secretly in Iran with Australian funding, the film was not meant to be screened within the country; however, bootleg copies circulated and actress Vafamehr was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail and ninety lashes (the sentence was appealed and overturned after three months of detainment). The film is unusual in its choice of middle-class, and unapologetically "decadent" intellectuals as its protagonists, rather than the urban lower class. While audience sympathies lie with Marzieh, she is not presented as a flawless and noble character, and it is left ambiguous just how much of her story is inconsistent due to her need to obtain sympathy from her case worker, or to her two-year detainment and failing health. Director Granaz Moussavi was a friend of the three principal actors and had first-hand experience of the challenge of immigrating to Australia from Iran (depicted in a sequence of people milling about outside the Australian Embassy in Tehran advising each other about the easiest ways to get out of the country (including marriage, illness, and shady methods involving falsified work histories). It took five years for Mossavi's family's visas to be approved, and she later received her degrees in filmmaking from Flinders University in Adelaide).

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 28 February 2009 (Australia)

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DVD Review: The Global Film Initiative (Global Lens Collection) - Region 0 - NTSC

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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The Global Film Initiative

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:40:33

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.2 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio Farsi and English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English (burnt-in)
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Global Film Initiative

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Globel Lens Trailer
• PDF Film Discussion Guide
• About The Global Film Initiative

DVD Release Date: January 31st, 2012

Chapters 12



The Global Film Initiative's disc features a single-layer, anamorphic, interlaced transfer (the Australian disc runs 96:44, so Global's disc is an interlaced encoding of the film at its 24fps framerate) with burnt-in English subtitles for the Persian dialogue. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio is vibrant during the music passages, but otherwise restrained. While a PDF discussion guide is provided for the film, supplementary material about the film's covert production and the ensuing controversy would have been welcome (this is the film mentioned not so long ago in the media that resulted in the jailing of its star and a sentence of ninety lashes [eventually overturned]; the PDF guide makes only brief mention of this).

The R4 Australian disc reportedly features 5.1 and half-bitrate DTS mixes (whether the subtitles are optional is unconfirmed), as well as a theatrical trailer.

  - Eric Cotenas


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The Global Film Initiative

Region 0 - NTSC



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