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Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran: A director’s powerful vision


Director Farbod Ardebili directs an important new short film, Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran, shedding light on the reality of banned western music in Iran.

This topical film tells the story of Iranian women not being able to sing or perform publicly with live concerts being banned for female solo singers, forcing them to hide and perform in dangerous underground venues.

The film was based of Ardebili’s real-life experiences of playing in an underground band with a female lead singer.

“I had an underground Metal band in Iran named “OFF.” We had a female singer for our second album, and she was exceptionally talented,” he says.

“However, as a woman, she was not allowed to sing or perform solo in any genre, let alone Metal. The insanity of her situation as an incredibly talented singer, and our collective experience as a Metal band, inspired me to write this story and turn it into a film.”

The events of the film comes from Ardebili’s own experiences of living in Iran as forbidden musicians, as well as his bandmates and friends.

A deeply personal film to Ardebili, he didn’t want to dictate the message his audience should get from the film, “it’s a story inspired by a real situation, and I believe whatever people get from the story is absolutely valid.”

Since 1979 the Iranian government has considered western music as a form of “cultural aggression”, a term not even Ardebili understands.


When Good asked him to explain why Iranian women were prohibited from singing and performing, Ardebili says, “religion and power don’t make a healthy mix, and that’s the mix we got in 1979.”

Although the ban of pop music in Iran has been lifted since 1979, many musical genres are still considered taboo such as metal and hip hop. Women still can’t sing solo in any genre, including Persian Music.

Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran reflects the reality of what Iranian women face today.

When making this film, Ardebilii hoped his short film will change the way the western world views Iran, especially Iranian women. And after many heart-warming reactions to his film, he believes he has.

Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran shows us the unfamiliar situation happening in Iran, situations that most living in western countries would never have witnessed.

The meaning behind the film’s title, Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran, reflects both literally and figurative that people are forbidden to scream in Tehran, “because Metal music is banned in Iran, as a result no one can scream. The Iranian government doesn’t want people outside of Iran to know the people like my friends and me exist over there, as a result, no one can see our screams on pain.”

Forbidden to See Us Scream in Tehran is a beautiful yet hard hitting film showing the harsh realities of life living in Iran. It follows an Iranian death metal band with a female lead singer who risks everything as she plots to call the cops on her own underground concert in the hopes that the raid will help her secure her asylum in another country.

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