There’s nothing like an illegally filmed docu-drama to get my blood up, and this fascinating journey through Iran’s underground music scene ticks all the boxes.
Negar and Ashkan are musicians, bandmates and soulmates, whose efforts to navigate Iran’s complex bureaucracy and get their band to London form the backbone of the story.
But director and MIFF favourite Bahman Ghobadi is also keen to showcase the range of musical styles banned in Iran.
We meet rappers, metal heads and others whose music has failed to gain a coveted permit, forcing them to practise and perform in bunkers, on farms and under their parents’ and neighbours’ noses.
The film suffers for its inability to choose between the kids’ story and the musical mystery tour, but the novice actors and wonderful characters make up for it.
These are ordinary people just trying to make the music they love and foil the police, with results that are sometimes hilarious (the unforeseen consequences of exposure to cows) and sometimes tragic (as the police and circumstance come between Ashkar and Negan).
It certainly makes you look twice at the ‘struggling artist’ idea in the West, when these teens casually mention their time in jail or beatings by cops, and makes you realise how much we take for granted.