Radio Dreams: A celebration of Iranian filmmaking at the 10th London Iranian Film Festival
The annual London Iranian Film Festival returns for its tenth anniversary this year, showcasing some of the best films from Persia – and for the first time including features from Turkey, Iraq, Egypt and Afghanistan.
Babak Jalali’s deadpan comedy Radio Dreams is a wonderfully understated poetic gem exploring the waters of artistic creativity and statelessness. One of Iran’s most popular singer-songwriters, Mohsen Namjoo, stars as Hamid Royhani, the melancholic, hand sanitiser-wielding fiction writer and director of programming at PARS FM radio, a station for Iranian expatriates now residing in America. Royhani plans to have the first Afghan rock group – real-life musicians Kabul Dreams – interview legendary heavy metal band Metallica, as part of his attempt to draw more listeners in and keep the station open.
Through individual episodes, Royhani desires to give Iranians the opportunity to talk about their experiences of life in the US. In one such episode, a worried suburbanite comes across a penguin in her backyard, Royhani perfectly switching between angst and the rational questioning of the operator. In another scene, he comes into conflict with assistant Maral (Boshra Dastournezhad) as well as the station’s awkward jingle provider, Morad (played to hilarious effect by Mahmood Schricker), as he tastelessly interrupts a poignant section on Salvadoran poet Roque Antonio Dalton Garcia – and later a very moving account of one woman’s immigrant story – to sell a variety of Iranian-style meals, the tone coalescing from sombre to comical in seconds.
Jalali and fellow writer Aida Ahadiany’s script is elegiac and lyrical, with pitch-perfect timing, evoking the works of Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know – particularly in tone – as well as fellow Iranian filmmaker Ali Jaberansari’s Tehran: City of Love, another equally beautiful story that is also recommended viewing; it’s unsurprising that he is the assistant director on this feature.
Royhani’s narration steeps the film in a thought-provoking nostalgia that keeps us utterly captivated. Radio Dreams effortlessly reveals the ways we acclimatise to new surroundings when our hearts may be stationed elsewhere, breathing life into contemporary Iranian comedy.
One cannot help but empathise with Royhani when he reflects, “I love the world of culture and arts” and it is this passion to keep PARS radio alive for his fellow countrymen that creates such an intimate and a tender portrayal of life outside Iran.
Radio Dreams does not have a UK release date yet.
For further information about the London Iranian Film Festival visit the official website here.
Watch the trailer for Radio Dreams here: