‘A blues for Tehran’: music for the eyes | Culture


The debut in the feature film of the veteran radio journalist Javier Tolentino, who a few weeks ago said goodbye to the direction of the Radio 3 film program The seventh vice after 22 years at the microphone, offers a tour of traditional and fusion Iranian music through the ear as well as the eyes. Although music is central in this journey through the sounds of the Persian country, so are the places that are portrayed from the cinephile gaze of its director and that in many moments refer to the rural and urban landscapes of one of the most influential cinematographies of the world. contemporary cinema, the cradle of great filmmakers, many of them grown under the shadow of one of their undeniable masters, Abbas Kiarostami, a poet who raised silence to music and who only introduced the effect of a song at the end of his films.

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Tolentino’s homage to that cinema flourished in silence and adversity, be it due to the censorship of the regime or poverty, is latent throughout his film; this one, full of songs. A blues for Tehran is a musical documentary that aims to offer an overview of sounds that draw from the rich Persian tradition to express the present through it.

The axis of the film is a Kurdish musician with a vocation for a filmmaker and a tendency to alopecia, Erfan Shafei, who as soon as the film starts sings inside his car (again Tehran seen from the nervous movement of a vehicle) one of the best songs of the whole movie. It will be followed by different groups and voices that between melodies and verses will unravel a complex reality. Each one will make their own definition of what music is, “the greatest of all the arts because it can go through the darkness or a wall,” says one of them, while the viewer discovers what those songs hide, why women don’t sing and how when they challenge power with their song they do so out of deep sadness.


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