ASL Interpreted, Open Captions
Behzad Nalbandi / 2019 / Farsi with English subtitles / Iran / 62 min / North American Premiere
In preparation for visits from foreign dignitaries, the authorities in Tehran clear the streets of homeless people, sex workers and drug users. Those who get picked up are taken to special detention centers outside the city. Stripped of their rights, dignity and freedom, the authorities hold them there until the outside world’s eyes are directed elsewhere. Then the men are released to go back out onto the streets. But the women are not: instead, they become official state prisoners for life. First time feature film Director Behzad Nalbandi found ways around the official channels and gained access to one of the women’s prisons, where he used a sound recorder to document the harrowing stories of its inmates. Utilizing original stop-motion animation to illustrate the accounts of violence, humiliation, poverty and addiction, as well as the Director’s own impressions of the bleak detention center. Such inventive animation allows Nalbandi to offer these “invisible” women a platform without exposing their identity. What this powerful five-years-in-the-making documentary does reveal is the grim reality concerning the position of women in Iranian society—and these women in particular.