An imaginative and engaging history of Tehran (formerly spelled Teheran), “Tehran Has No More Pomegranates!” uses a petulant, barbed humor to show how the city has undergone a sea change to become the capital of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Young documaker Massoud Bakhshi doesn’t make any earth-shaking revelations, instead delivering a steady stream of irony about his drastically transformed society, where even such an apparently harmless topic as change is subject to state censorship. This is a tasty morsel for fests, expatriate Iranians and auds attuned to more experimental doc work.
Bakhshi loops archive footage of horse-drawn carriages and men in fezes into the massive, faceless traffic of the modern city (with some 14 million inhabitants, the most polluted in the world). Pic quickly sketches: the city’s birth, the Qadjar kings, the Pahlavi dynasty, the Islamic revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq war, glossing over the hostage crisis and other politically inconvenient topics. Mockingly, as though following orders about how the film should be made, Bakhshi continually contrasts the bad old Teheran full of dirty illiterates with the marvelous modern city, while images suggest just the opposite.