Though proper recipes are lacking, helmer Mohammed Shirvani (“Navel”) offers enough food for thought in his docu “Iranian Cookbook,” which nominally looks at seven women prepping succulent dishes during the holy month of Ramadan. The true subject, which only really comes to the fore in pic’s second half, is the position of women in the Iranian household and Iranian society at large, which should make this a satisfying read-between-the-lines item for fests, even if it is light on real meat.

Protags are relatives or acquaintances of the director, and are only identified onscreen as “My Sister,” “My Mother’s Friend,” etc. They impart some secrets of the Persian kitchen while cooking and speaking to Shirvani, who remains mostly offscreen, but the real insights only surface when the men arrive and are asked about their wives and their cooking. Strongest segs focus on Shirvani’s wife (now ex-wife) and his mother-in-law, allowing for the marked contrasts between the generations to surface naturally. Pic’s obsession with the time it takes to prepare each dish, something the menfolk uniformly ignore, underlines why so many women have little time for other activities. Tech credits are basic.

Iranian Cookbook


  • Production: A Documentary and Experimental Film Center production, in association with Dreamlike Media Intl. Produced, directed, written by Mohammed Shirvani.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Hooman Behmanesh; editors, Shirvani, Esmail Monsef. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Culinary Cinema), Feb. 16, 2010. Original title: Dastoor -e Ashpazi. Farsi dialogue. Running time: 72 MIN.
  • With: With: Mohammed Shirvani.
  • Music By: