Kianoush Ayari b. 1951
Tazeh Nafas-ha (The Newborns) (1979)
Duration: 45 min

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.

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