Terrestrial Verses

Iran | 2023 | 77 min. | Ali Asgari, Alireza Khatami

In this absurdist, formally inventive Iranian movie structured around nine vignettes, a cross-section of Tehran society—fathers, filmmakers, schoolgirls, rideshare drivers—is interrogated by various offscreen authority figures and bureaucrats intent on making their lives harder.

Director Alireza Khatami scheduled to attend.

“[O]ne of the most brilliant and provocative films to emerge from Iran recently” —Godfrey Cheshire, RogerEbert.com

In this darkly funny series of vignettes, individuals from a cross-section of Tehranian society try to navigate the constraints of an all-encompassing institutional power as they go about their daily lives. A man at a hospital tries to get a birth certificate for his son. A woman at the police station tries to retrieve her lost dog. A man tries to renew his driver’s license. People interview for jobs. A little girl shops with her mom to buy an outfit for school. A schoolgirl is summoned to the principal’s office after being seen on a motorcycle with a boy. A young woman is summoned to the police station after traffic cameras seem to catch her in her car without her hijab. A filmmaker tries to get the script for his movie approved by the censors. In the situations they face some of these individuals are deferential, others defiant. Some try to reason with their interlocutors, others try to placate them. The individual episodes are surreal, infuriating, sometimes frightening, but collectively they also suggest the cumulative frustration of an entire people with the injustice of their government that may one day shake that government to its foundations.

Justine Barda

  • Original Language Title: Ayeh haye zamini
  • Director: Ali Asgari, Alireza Khatami
  • Principal Cast: Bahram Ark, Arghavan Shabani, Servin Zabetian, Sadaf Asgari, Faezeh Rad
  • Country: Iran, USA
  • Year: 2023
  • Running Time: 77 min.
  • Producer: Ali Asgari, Milad Khosravi
  • Screenplay: Alireza Khatami, Ali Asgari
  • Cinematographers: Adib Sobhani
  • Editors: Ehsan Vaseghi
  • Music: Masoud Fayaz Zadeh
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Asgari: Until Tomorrow (2022), Disappearance (2017) Khatami: Oblivion Verses (2017)
  • Language: Farsi
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • US Distributor: KimStim
  • International Sales: Films Boutique