Kianoush Ayari’s documentary captures rare scenes of everyday life on
the streets of Tehran in the months following the revolution of 1979 —
that somewhat utopian period between revolutionary violence and the
formation of a full fledged Islamic Republic when a bright future seemed
possible, if not probable.
In this Tehran, we witness books carrying conflicting ideologies sold
openly on the streets, laborers debating as to the wages they have been
promised, and young men donning Arab garb to have their portrait taken
with a Yasser Arafat backdrop. We also witness extended scenes from
three different political plays, along with street theatre in a park where a
performer imitates various iconic pop singers, political figures, and even
the Shah himself.
Still, images from slums in the south of the city remind us of lurking
problems in the background, and while the film ends on an optimistic
note—with footage of youth energetically campaigning for upcoming
elections—33 years later and in light of current events, that optimism
seems misplaced, if not bittersweet.