The nuclear family and the double moral meet in an animated drama about prostitution

Our guest blogger Robert Schenck reviews Tehran Taboo, an animated film about prostitution, female oppression and corruption in Iran today. This is an attractive film with strong credibility.

Title: Tehran Taboo [Teheran Tabu in Swedish]

Editor: Ali Soozandeh

Manus: Ali Soozaneh and Grit Kienzlen

Year: 2018

Film Review of Robert Schenck

In Ali Soozandeh’s film, Tehran Taboo, rules the double moral. Corruption, threat and female oppression permeate the society. Prostitution, with its usual associates poverty and drugs, are the film’s red thread.

The film is didactic which, among other things, is what makes it very educational and worthwhile. It is obvious that Soozandeh wants us to take in his dark images of Iranian society. On the surface the family morality is holy, but in reality everyone has falsehoods and lives double lives. Women sell their bodies, men look at porn in secret, the judicial system is corrupt, abortions are performed in secrecy and street prostitution is widespread – everything can be bought with money. At the same time, this is upheld on the image of a society where the traditional nuclear family and the Islamic laws are valued above all else.

The fact that this film has the ambition to contribute to the education of the audience, could also be its achilles heel. In his eagerness, Soozandeh has put together many different sides of society in one film. The single mother Pari, is the spider in the web within the film’s parallel stories, who is a little bit too stable in her role as the strong woman that helps others. She too suffers herself as a prostitute and as a victim. Her son Elias follows her in the nights. He is an innocent witness throughout the entire film, not just to his mother’s prostitution, but also to the other adults double lives.

Besides the films many narratives, it is tremendously gripping and should be seen by all that work against prostitution and trafficking on a global level. The film’s animated format only contributes further to its credibility, and increases its artistic value. The animations create a comic book feeling that suits the film director’s way of depicting life in Tehran.