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No one knows about Persian Cats

This post originated from a mailing list post by Chris Green to the writers-at-MIT.edu mailing list.

No-one knows about Persian Cats.

Filmed in Iran, the recently released film No-one Knows About Persian Cats, now doing the film festival circuit, tells the story of a group of young, underground musicians who want to do nothing more than play music.

In Iran there's a situation reminiscent of the sign posted above the door of The Parliament Of Owls, featured either in The Once And Future King, or at least in The Book of Merlin, which was deleted from the first title because its satirical attitude was frowned upon during the Cold War.

The sign says something to the effect of “Everything Which Isn't Banned is Mandatory.”

In Iran, a musician either plays Iranian Classical music, or they don't play at all.

At least not publicly… :-)

The young musicians in the film want to play contemporary pop, heavy metal, or World Music, and even jazz. To play any of this in such a way that it comes to the attention of the authorities is quite dangerous, and so clubs and recording studios are underground and hidden away.

My understanding is that in a country where more than 50% of the people are under 30, there are a lot of clubs like this. Some people have filmed sets in these clubs and put videos up on YouTube, and elsewhere, where I have seen them over the years.

There are some hot musicians over there, but I don't know any of their names, except for one band which has relocated to the UK, one named Radio Tehran. There are other expatriate Iranian bands and performers, and there now is at least one record label (in the UK) set up by some of the musicians to record and distribute their music.

While writing this, I realized the excellent word play in the title, No-one Knows About Persian Cats.... musicians used to call themselves cats, especially the hep jazz and rockabilly cats... so, no-one knows (much) about the Persian cats, daddy-o, and the hep music they play...

Also, cats are banned in Iran, formerly called Persia.

I noticed many years back that the young people who have access to the internet, cds, and old-fashioned cassette tapes, want to experience and enjoy the same freedoms and opportunities that their counterparts have elsewhere.

The underground in Iran is something of a pressure cooker, and one of these days the older generation ( the ones behind the Iranian revolution) and oppressive elements will start to lose control of the oppressive political and social powers they currently have.

Things will boil over. Again.

The younger generations will want to have control over their own future, as will the Cubans when things start to change there: in both instances, the direction of the 'further revolution' (to coin a term) will (hopefully) be dictated by the people who participate in it.

They want to change their societies and the lives they live, but on their own terms: this is as it should be.

The best thing for outsiders to do is to not interfere (actively), other than to occasionally offer encouragement and support, but to generally stay out of their way.

Here's the Wikipedia page about this film.

Cheers,

Chris Green

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