The 2019 edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in the Netherlands has set to screen Iranian ‘The Unseen’.
Directed by Behzad Nalbandi, the 61-minute doc will be screened at the Luminous section of the IDFA.
Also produced and animated by Nalbandi, ‘The Unseen’ is about part of a beautification process where the local officials decide to round up unsavory characters such as drug addicts. Men are usually released after a few days, but women are sent to a center on the outskirts of the city where social workers keep no records of the presence of these homeless women.
In preparation for visits from foreign dignitaries, the authorities in Tehran clear the streets of homeless people. Those who get picked up are taken to special detention centers outside the city. Then the men are released to go back out onto the streets. But the women are not.
Behzad Nalbandi found ways around the official channels and gained access to one of the women’s prisons, where he used a sound recorder to document the harrowing stories of its inmates. Original stop-motion animations illustrate their accounts of violence, humiliation, poverty and addiction, as well as Nalbandi’s own impressions of the unwelcoming detention center.
The use of animation allows Nalbandi to offer these unseen women a platform without exposing their identity.
‘The Unseen’ has gone one screen at some global events, including the 24th Busan International Film Festival in South Korea and the 37th Fajr International Film Festival in Iran.
The 2019 IDFA is also set to screen ‘Asho’ and ‘Sunless Shadows’ from Iran.
The IDFA “offers an independent and inspiring meeting place for audiences and professionals to see a diverse and high-quality program,” the festival’s website reads.
“The diverse nature of the event applies to the form and content of the films as well as to the cultural backgrounds of the filmmakers. IDFA offers an alternative to mass entertainment and uniformity, confirming that there is an increasing need in audiences for high-quality films that delve deep and urge us to reflect.”
The 32nd IDFA will take place on November 20–December 1, 2019.