The term ‘indie rock’ has, as with all these tags associated with modern music genres, lost its meaning somewhat in today’s profit driven music industry. With large music companies desperately snapping up every remotely talented, young rebellious musicians, to whom they can market at today’s culturally enriched youth it’s sometimes hard to see which groups are truly ‘independent’ and which have been manufactured to appear that way.
In Bahman Ghobadi’s (A Time for Drunken Horses) sixth full length feature, ‘No one knows about Persian cats’ we get a true glimpse of what ‘independent music’ really is. Focussing on two young Iranian musicians, Negar and Ashkan, both fresh from serving prison sentences for illegal musical activates, we follow the pair as they search for band members to play at a London concert ... and the visas that allows them to leave Iran to do so.
In continuous attempts to avoid the local authorities, we see a side of Iran that has never before been captured in any art house films or serious documentaries. Instead of war zones and gritty street markets we get a glimpse of the life of young Iranians, playing secret shows in cellars, bars and any hiding place they can find in what is a humorous yet emotional tribute to the underground Iranian music scene.
It’s easy to see how this semi-documentary film could be seen as a pro- democracy piece, as behind its glossy image does lie an important message. Yet despite the censorship enforced on these young artists, they remain respectful of their cultural heritage, and find themselves occupying some vague middle-ground between the repression of the east and supposed freedom of the west .
Full of energetic live performances and comedic asides ...Persian Cats is a vibrant and engaging portrait of a repressed generation bursting with creativity. Reiterating the power of music as a universal language and the resilience of art to not only survive despite such adversity but truly triumph within it.
Director: Bahman Ghobadi
Starring: Negar Shaghaghi, Ashkan Koshanejad, Hamed Behdad