SONG OF SPARROWS from 2008 is yet another brilliant and moving film from Iran. Another in a long line of examples of what has become a somewhat surprising constant over the last twenty years: Iran produces excellent movies. If you liked last year’s Academy Award winning Best Foreign Language film A SEPARATION, then you’ve already gotten a taste of it. For whatever reason, Iranian films bring something to the big screen that is rarely seen in filmmaking from any country today. Seemingly unconcerned with reproducing or competing with big budget Hollywood blockbusters, instead Iranian movies tend to be simple, sincere and authentic portraits of humanity with a realness we’ve not seen in cinema since post-World War II Italian films such as those by Roberto Rossalinni. Whether or not Iranian filmmakers are deliberately attempting to start their own version of ‘Neorealism’ or are even aware of the reverred style is not known for sure — it certainly wouldn’t be something they could admit freely under the tightly controlled and watchful eyes of the Islamic Republic’s Minister of Culture — as all Western art and entertainment including film and music is banned in modern day Iran. I myself had the honor of meeting with the Minister of Culture in his office in Tehran in 2008 to discuss a possible musical collaboration with famed Taar recording artist Hussein Alizadeh, and by the end of the meeting felt sadly dissappointed and quite sure that none such collaboration would be permitted under the current laws simply because I am a Western musical artist….
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