Movies: No One Knows About Persian Cats * * * *
(12A, limited release)
Apparently, award-winning Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi grew so tired of awaiting script approval from his country's notoriously prudish censors that he went out with his camera and began shooting a rough story with young actors about an indie pop duo who are trying to find the money and permits that will allow them to fulfill their dream of playing a gig in London. And that's the essence of No One Knows about Persian Cats.
Negar Shaghaghi and Ashkan Koshanejad play Negar and Ashkan, a singer and musician who are lovers and also partners in an indie band. They have been offered the chance of playing a concert in London. But the trouble is one of them can't get a permit to travel outside Iran, which means they're both reduced to seeking fake permits. Their friend and fixer is Nader (Hamed Behdad), a Teheran wheeler and dealer with an endearing faith in his ability to wangle his way out of any situation. But that faith turns out to be ill-founded when Nader's forger becomes the target of a police raid.
For much of the film, Negar and Ashkan rehearse and go to gigs, and politics is rarely and only obliquely discussed. This makes the ominous and unseen presence of censor and thought police all the more menacing, and not surprisingly most of Ghobadi's cast have since fled Iran.