Theatre of Tears (58 min)

Made in cooperation with Dimitri Lurie

After the death of the Holy Prophet Mohammed, Imam Hossein - the Prophet's grandson, and the third leader of the Shia Muslims - refused to swear allegiance to Yazid, the caliph of Damascus. In 680 AD a bloody battle took place in the desert of Karbala. Hossein and his men were brutally murdered and the women and remaining children taken as captives by Yazid's army.  

Every year, throughout a ten-day long mourning ritual, the Shia Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hossein, carrying out processions to express their anguish and grief. Night after night, men dressed in black walk through the streets, pounding their chests while singing songs of sorrow for the murdered Imam. On the tenth day - the day of Ashura - the ceremony culminates in a spectacular street theatre performance, re-enacting Imam Hossein's torment.

In "Theatre of Tears", three generations - the old and faithful haji Keramat Haghighi, the powerful Mullah Hojat-al-Islami Razavi Ardekani and the young actor Abdolrahman Hooshiar - depict today's Iran through their own different involvement in and interpretation of the ritual dedicated to Imam Hossein. As haji Keramat emphasizes on the miracles created by Imam Hossein and his relatives, Abdolrahman sees the ritual as a powerful passion play, a psychodrama where personal sorrow can be released and dispersed into the collective mourning for Imam Hossein.

At the same time, it is obvious that the religious leadership uses the mythology surrounding the battle in Karbala for all it is worth on the political arena - for instance by regarding Yazid's assassination of Imam Hossein and his men as a parallel to the USA and Israel's suppression of Iran.

With: Haji Keramat Haghighi,  Abdolrahman Hooshiar, Hojat-al-Islami Razavi Ardekani

Director of photography: Dimitri Lurie

Second cameraman: Pooyan Kazemi

Additional shots: Vahid Jahanmirinezhad, Ole Christian Ellestad, Beate Petersen

Set managers: Vahid Jahanmirinezhad, Pooyan Kazemi

Editors:   Beate Petersen, Dimitri Lurie, Ramin Behnoud, Marina Baulina, Pooyan Kazemi, Igor Nurgaliev

Sound editing: Sergey Fedorov

Sound mixing: Michael Nickolaev

Music: "Birds" by Hossein Alizadeh from "Endless vision"

Producer: Beate Petersen

Co-producer: Dodo Film Company

Translation: Hassan Bagalpour, Pouneh Attarinejad, Pooyan Kazemi, Ramin Behnoud

Made with support from: Billedkunstnernes Vederlagsfond, the Freedom of Expression Foundation and Arts Council Norway.