Shaped by the experiences of the Iranian Revolution, Iranian-American autobiographers use this chaotic past to tell their current stories in the United States. Wagenknecht analyzes a wide range of such writing and draws new conclusions about migration, exile, and life between different and often clashing cultures.
The film’s narrative follows three leading actresses, all appearing in the same movie (but not appearing in the same shot until the end of the film), and all undergoing their own personal crises. It’s very formally worked out, through a series of carefully balanced dialogues with confessors, synchronized confrontation scenes, and staggered flashbacks. If Farewell was Yoshida’s self-conscious Resnais tribute, this is him in Bergman mode (Mariko Okada’s story even begins with her experience hysterical mutism, à la Persona), though the finished product is much livelier and more pungent than anything Bergman would have come up with (maybe Zetterling’s The Girls is a more apposite reference point). On another level, it’s also referencing a big old Hollywood melodrama, pastel panoramas in various shades of bitch (there are also nods to All About Eve).
Musician and film-maker Roxana Vilk lives in Scotland but grew up in Tehran. Her family left Iran in the wake of the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and since the breakdown of diplomatic relations between London and Tehran in 2011, she has been unable to return. In this film, Roxana explores her identity as a British-Iranian and finds out how to teach her children about a country they have never visited. From a tower block in Glasgow to the glamour of Los Angeles, home to the largest group of Iranians living abroad, she finds out how other Iranian migrants keep their culture alive. While some of the questions she raises are specific to the Iranian diaspora, this film speaks to broader issues of identity faced by immigrants the world over.