Salaam Isfahan

Sanaz Azari

India, 2010.

From the public space of the street to the private environs of homes, Iranians are photographed by the director. Through the dialogue created by the photo session and the way they pose, the characters subtly reveal themselves and a larger question emerges: How do Iranians see the current political regime? The film sketches a portrait of a society before, during and after the elections, a short period of time during which change seemed possible …

Salaam Isfahan (Good Morning Isfhahan) is Sanaz Azari’s poetic documentary set in the Iranian city of Isfahan, during the controversial general elections of 2009. The film consists of spontaneous conversations with a diverse and randomly selected group of subjects who have agreed to be photographed by Azari. The naturally lilting conversations occur during the photo shoot and seem completely unprompted with a minimal of set-up. Azari sets up her camera in outdoor, public areas and offers to take photographs of passers-by. Some refuse and keep walking, others stop and oblige, becoming part of the film. The conversations span a spectrum of topics.

However, the timing of the film, beginning just prior to the elections and ending just after the results are declared, imbues the film with a political undercurrent. While eschewing overt political comment, the film certainly alludes to the general political climate that exists at the time and, through its choice of subjects and conversations, makes a reserved comment about the political process in Iran. While elections are held more frequently in Iran than other Middle Eastern countries, the Guardian Council, a body of clerics, vets each candidate.

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