ZOHRE & MANOUCHEHRHow did religion become a political system and manage to penetrate our privacy, creating a feeling of anxiety around the subject of sexuality? How can love and sexuality find a way through the myriad of prohibitions and interdicts in contemporary Iranian society? These are the questions at the heart of Mitra Farahanis part-fictional, part-documentary film. The idea for this genre mix became increasingly insistent as the filmmaker was conducting initial interviews with protagonists during research. In Mitra Farahanis own words: Today, if you ask an Iranian to define love, their response will inevitably be a poetical reference. They wont talk about their past or their experiences, but will choose a poetic metaphor. Poetry is of fundamental importance in Iran. It is omnipresent: in the cinema, in painting and, more generally, it is embedded in the culture of each and every individual. Be they politicians or members of religious orders, they all refer to poetry continually. It is impossible to speak of love, and therefore of sexuality, without speaking in terms of poetry.
For her film, Farahani chose a poem by Iraj Mirza which, although it respects the formal rules of Iranian verse, is free of ambiguity; the love in question is passionate love, right down to its carnal dimension. So Farahani: I wanted to reveal via the fictional and documentary elements, the contradiction between a society once so well-versed in combining culture, Islam and the art of loving, and an environment today whereby a couple who embrace are forced to ask themselves if they are committing a grave sin.