×

Head Wind

An Iranian paradox: Officially, many things are not permitted, yet with Persian ingenuity, almost everything is possible.

An Iranian paradox: Officially, many things are not permitted, yet with Persian ingenuity, almost everything is possible. Wry docu “Head Wind,” by acclaimed helmer Mohammad Rasoulof (“The Twilight,” “Iron Island”), provides a candid insider’s look at how his authoritarian government aims to control the flow of information into the country and how his compatriots, thirsty for knowledge and freedom of expression, slyly attempt to bend the rules. Combining pointed interviews and probing camerawork, this fascinating pic is prime fest fare and a natural for international broadcasters. Ironically, it’s unlikely to be legally screened on home turf.

A sociologist by training, Rasoulof researched this pet project over two years and produced it himself, clearly obtaining the trust of his unidentified interviewees, some of whom discuss and demonstrate clandestine activities that could earn them fines, jail time or worse. Some might even perceive the pic as encouraging rebellion, and thus itself a head wind to the vessel of the state. More than an undercover investigation, it gains unusual currency via its frank commentary from an atypical cross-section of the population.

Because Iranian TV stations offer only government-approved news and entertainment, banned satellite dishes are nearly ubiquitous. Rasoulof visits isolated villages with “boosting antennas,” nomadic tribesmen with generator-powered satellites and upscale urban homes with dishes hidden on the roof.

Queried about their viewing habits, some claim to have “immoral channels” blocked, while others clearly enjoy access to film fare from Hollywood to Bollywood. Many seek world news, noting the importance of seeing how others view Iran. A middle-class teen references strict rules governing behavior and dress of women and youth outside the home, claiming that with all the criticism she’s subject to, she’d rather stay in and watch foreign TV.

Helmer tracks three dish installers as they fill orders and learns how they find their business. He also follows a purveyor of black-market entertainment who maintains lists of his clients’ viewing and proudly makes recommendations based on their tastes.

The DVD man leads him to a studio where contraband from Dubai and Malaysia is dubbed or subtitled. Even the dubbers often modify what they consider “socially unacceptable material,” and amusingly demonstrate how they can add sleeves and raise a neckline on a Western woman’s revealing dress.

The Internet constitutes another important battlefront in the information war. An articulate former journalist from a banned reformist newspaper demonstrates how the government uses filtering to block access to certain sites, but proxies can unblock the filtered ones.

Strong tech package boasts some poetically beautiful camerawork of the countryside from the helmer’s longtime d.p. Reza Jalali. Rasoulof proves his own resourcefulness in countering a filming ban by cleverly editing photos of police destroying satellite dishes into an action montage.

Head Wind

Iran

Production: A Shargh Tamasha Co. production. (International sales: Shargh Tamasha Co., Tehran.) Produced by Mohammad Rasoulof. Executive producer, Mehdi Badeleh. Directed, written, edited by Mohammad Rasoulof.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Reza Jalali; sound, Mohammad Mohktari; sound designer, Rooholla Rezaie. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (Discovery), April 24, 2008. Running time: 65 MIN.

More Scene

  • Mary Bailey Steve D'Angelo, Jim Belushi

    Cannabis Industry Tackles Justice Reform With 'Last Prisoner Project'

    Jim Belushi is standing two feet away in the backyard of his spacious Brentwood home, honking a harp like he’s a Blues Brother back in sweet home Chicago accompanied by noted reggae band Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany and Kyle Ahern, who provide a 12-bar shuffle. There’s the sweet smell of marijuana – and success — hanging [...]

  • Dwayne Wade holds up the legend

    Dwyane Wade, Megan Rapinoe Win Big at 2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards

    The 2019 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports Awards was filled with incredible athletes, inspiring moments and — of course — a massive amount of slime. “I love the kids. I love the slime. I loved the games. I love seeing celebrities and athletes like become kids again. And it’s like my favorite thing,” Michael Strahan told [...]

  • Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani

    Dave Bautista Talks Representation in Hollywood and Defying Stereotypes with 'Stuber'

    Dave Bautista and Kumail Nanjiani make an unlikely duo in “Stuber,” an R-rated comedy about a police officer and his Uber driver. But the two connected over the rare chance to star in the film as actors of Asian descent (Baustia is half-Filipino and Nanjiani is Pakistani). “I’ve been stereotyped for a couple different reasons [...]

  • Skin

    How Jamie Bell Transformed Into a Neo-Nazi for 'Skin'

    Anyone who still associates British actor Jamie Bell with his breakout role as a young boy who dreams of becoming a ballet dancer will quickly forget all about “Billy Elliot” after seeing “Skin,” which screened at ArcLight Hollywood on Thursday night. “I was shocked,” the film’s writer-director, Guy Nattiv, told Variety of his leading man’s [...]

  • HOLLYWOOD, CA - JULY 10: (L

    Leonardo DiCaprio-Produced Doc 'Sea of Shadows' Takes on Mexican Cartels

    Leonardo DiCaprio‘s latest eco-documentary “Sea of Shadows” doesn’t shy away from taking on Mexican cartels. “For some of the guys there, he is state enemy number one at the moment,” said producer Wolfgang Knöpfler at the documentary’s premiere on Wednesday night at Neuehouse in Los Angeles. “The cartels don’t like him.” Appian Way and DiCaprio [...]

  • Megan Rapinoe and USWNT - 2019

    ESPY Awards 2019: What You Didn’t See on TV

    The ESPYs’ television broadcast only paints so much of the picture of what went down at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles from sports’ biggest award ceremony. Viewers at home saw Tracy Morgan host, celebrities like Sandra Bullock present and athletes including Drew Brees, Alex Morgan and Giannis Antetokounmpo receive awards, but they didn’t quite [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content