Tanaz Eshaghian effortlessly shifts from her lively autobiographical docs to the tougher conditions of a Tehran sex-change clinic in "Be Like Others."

U.S.-based filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian effortlessly shifts from her lively autobiographical docs (“Love Iranian-American Style”) to the tougher conditions of a Tehran sex-change clinic in the resonant “Be Like Others.” Pic keenly focuses on the personal lives and experiences of young gay men who opt for gender change (legal in Iran) rather than undergo steady harassment and abuse. Some of this ranks with the prostitute segment in Kiarostami’s “Ten” as a powerful window into a once-hidden side of the country, and will score with fests and possibly upscale cablers and pub nets.

With Dr. Bahram Mehrjalali’s sex-change clinic as the arena, Eshaghian finds her subjects among some of the kind, progressive doc’s patients. Perhaps most interesting is 20-year-old Anoosh, who becomes a woman named Anahita, alienating gay b.f. Ali. Twenty-four-year-old Ali Asghar finds some support from Vida, who’s had her operation and adjusted. The very issue of why Iran’s Islamic laws compel such drastic maneuvers and adjustments on the part of gay men runs under every scene, making pic a model of non-dogmatic filmmaking on a highly charged topic.

Be Like Others

Canada-U.K.-U.S.-France

Production

A Forties B (U.S.)/Necessary Illusions Prods. (Canada) production, in co-production with ITVS Intl., BBC (U.K.), with the participation of France 5 (France). (International sales: Steven Beer, New York.) Produced by Tanaz Eshaghian, Christoph Jorg. Executive producers, Richard Shaw, Sally Jo Fifer. Co-producers, Alexandra Kerry, Andrew Orr, Paul Rozenberg, Peter Wintonick, Ilan Ziv. Directed by Tanaz Eshaghian.

Crew

Camera (color, mini-DV), Amir Hosseini; editor, Jay Freund; music, Henning Lohner. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (World Cinema -- competing), Jan. 21, 2008. Running time: 76 MIN.

With

Dr. Bahram Mehrjalali, Anoosh/Anahita, Shahin, Ali, Ali Asghar, Vida, Farhad, Hojatol Islam Kariminiya. Narrator: Tanaz Eshaghian. (Farsi, English dialogue)

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