Though technically not a documentary, No One Knows About Persian Cats might as well be.
Using a cast of real Iranian underground musicians and filmed on the sly across the country, the director and actors clearly draw from their own experiences on how to get fake permits and passports to tour out of the country and how to hold shows/parties and rehearsals without getting arrested.
The film, which won the Special Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival centers on Ashkan and Negar, male and female musicians just released from prison for playing music who are trying to quickly put together a band and leave for London. The two connect with a bootlegger, part time hustler and music lover who takes them across Tehran scouting for potential band members and helping to obtain forged paper work to get out of the country.
Co-written and directed by Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, he takes great pains to not only tell a great story, but also showcase all genres of music that have taken off in the Iranian underground, from metal and rap to singer/songwriter and indie rock. Despite a completely jarring ending that doesn’t quite fit in with the optimistic tone of the first two-thirds of the movie, No One Knows About Persian Cats is a remarkable look at the everyday struggles musicians face for their passion in Iran.
No One Knows About Persian Cats/107 Mins./MPI Home Video/2011