Film Archive

International Programme
Exodus Bahman Kiarostami

Every day, thousands of Afghans want to leave their Iranian exile. In the return centre in Tehran, the longing for home meets the Iranian bureaucracy. Human, complex, eye-opening.

Exodus

Documentary Film
Iran
2019
77 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Bahman Kiarostami
Bahman Kiarostami
Davood Maleki
Bahman Kiarostami
Every day, thousands flock to the “Imam Reza” return centre in Tehran to apply for their exit permit to Afghanistan. The drastic fall of the Rial exchange rate, triggered by the US sanctions against Iran, has made living in exile uneconomic for the more than three million Afghan refugees. But anyone who wants to return to their old home must squeeze through the bottleneck of the agency that is part of the Iranian interior ministry. This is where they are registered, often after years of illegality.

Bahman Kiarostami focuses on following the brief conversations of those eager to return with the Iranian civil servants, which reveal the complex causes and manifold consequences of migration. It is surprising and sometimes very moving how quickly closeness is generated in these basically bureaucratic encounters, how one question, a personal word makes them open up to the camera. “Exodus” shows that migration is a part of daily life worldwide and that this won’t change as long as war, persecution and economic hardship threaten lives. As long as there are causes for migration, people will set out. Borders and regulations may make their path (dramatically) difficult, but they won’t be able to extinguish their wish for a better life.

Luc-Carolin Ziemann
International Programme
Khatemeh Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei

14-year-old Khatemeh lives in extremely restrictive structures in the Iranian city of Shiraz. She runs away to escape a forced marriage. But the case is anything but clear.

Khatemeh

Documentary Film
Iran
2018
90 minutes
subtitles: 
English
German
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei
Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei
Satar Oraki
Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei
Babak Heidari
Alireza Alavian
The structures of Khatemeh’s family, who originally came from Afghanistan but have lived in the Iranian city of Shiraz for more than thirty years, are rigid. The fourteen-year-old girl was married to a man double her age. He was in a relationship with her older sister, who took her own life. He says: “When she died, I wanted to marry her sister because they look alike.” According to the men in the house, mental problems are common to all the women in the family. And now Khatemeh has run away, to a kind of women’s refuge, because she couldn’t stand it any longer. She wants a divorce. Some male relatives go to the refuge to take Khatemeh with them. Her brother says: “Death is better than being a whore.”

At first glance, the situation seems clear. In the course of the film, however, more and more discrepancies emerge. Khatemeh especially shifts unpredictably between mental states. Sometimes she curses her family and fights for her freedom, then she implores the women who run the refuge on her knees to let her go home no matter what. Other girls, who also took refuge in the home, are sometimes attacked violently by her. “Khatemeh” is like a desert storm which again and again obscures the view to reveal a new vista when it’s died down.

Carolin Weidner

None of Your Business

Documentary Film
Czech Republic,
Iran
2019
64 minutes
subtitles: 
English
Credits DOK Leipzig Logo
Kaveh Farnam
Kamran Heidari
Kamran Heidari, Mansour Vahdani
Kamran Heidari
Saeideh Keshavarzi, Kamran Heidari
Ali Farmani
How he lived and died is nobody’s business, the singer Ebrahim Monsefi sings in a song documented in a video flickering with decay. It comes at the end of a film whose very existence asserts the opposite, because it narrates precisely that life, which was shaped by his love of music and a crash caused by the loss of loved ones. It started in the traditionally cosmopolitan southern Iranian seaport of Bandar Abbas at the Strait of Hormuz. There is even a (deserted) Hindu temple there, where the orphan grew up with his grandfather, surrounded by music from all over the world that was absorbed and interpreted by the locals. Thus Ebram learned to play the guitar at an early age and became a local star as a singer-songwriter, before he became addicted to heroin and died in 1997.

Today his songs are popular standards in the region. And catchy melancholy tunes which, in archive footage of Ebram himself and street sets of contemporary performers, become the vibrant framework of Kamran Heidari’s film. Added to this are restagings of individual stations of his life. And the artist as a spirit whose emerging, almost pathological obsession with femininity can also be read as a comment on the worldview of the never explicitly mentioned Islamic Revolution. Thus the film is more a parable than a biography, but also the portrait of a fascinating, vibrant city.

Silvia Hallensleben