Farbod Ardebili tells a heart-wrenching and powerful story in his film Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran. The protagonist is a young woman named Shima (Mohadeseh Kharaman). She cares for her young sister, Sherin (Sarina Amiri) while living essentially a “double life” as a singer in an underground heavy metal band. The danger of her actions lies within the fact that heavy metal music is not allowed; much less to be sung or performed by a woman. Shima, with the help of her friend, Farzad (Babak Kamangir), hatches a plan to get out of Iran in order to live her life freely and perform more openly. Of course, complications arise when Shima takes into account her sister. Sherin is deaf and adores her sister; relying on her for a lot of things. At first, her sister’s need for her causes Shima to say no to the plan. But as time goes on, she realises that she needs to leave in order to get her sister to somewhere Sherin can be safer as well.
Ardebili’s storytelling is like none other. He expertly navigates both sisters’ points of view, allowing audiences to understand and see what motivates both of them. His use of cinematography adds another layer to the world. While the underground concert venue is darker than the outside, the few bulbs that do give it light, provide a warm glow; while the outside contrasts with a cold, almost sterile light. This dichotomy further emphasises the warmth and safeness Shima feels while performing compared to the sharp uncertainty of the world she typically resides in.
Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran explores the idea of family, the desire people have to protect those they love, and how good intentions can often go awry if communication isn’t clear between those who matter. Audiences will leave the viewing with a gut-wrenching feeling that will inspire them to go forward and try to create positive change in any way they can.