A potentially groundbreaking independent film by an Iranian-American writer-director working (reportedly clandestinely) in Iran emerges as little more than a pilot for a TV series that could be titled “North Tehran.” Hossein Keshavarz’s “Dog Sweat” squeezes eight characters and a multitude of storylines into 90 minutes, with the almost unavoidable effect of reducing each element to its simplest terms. Great for ADD-style viewing but not for advancing Iranian cinema’s currently challenged profile, the film will face difficulties on the fest circuit and among picky distribs.
Against a background of 2009 Green Revolution protests (always offscreen), man-hungry Katie (Tahereh Azadi) welcomes brother Dawood (Ahmad Akbarzadeh), who’s returning from abroad and warms to sweet Katherine (Sara Esfahani). Gay lovers Hooshang (Rahim Zamani) and Hooman (Bagher Forohar) have to play it low-key, but Hooman is pressed to marry. Mahsa (Maryam Mousavi) finds her dreams of a recording career thwarted, while her mom is compelled to take a pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq. Hooshang and Hooman’s straight buddy Massoud faces tragedy with his mom’s death at the hands of a bad driver.