Radio Dreams (2016)

Radio Dreams
Director: Babak Jalali
Writer: Babak Jalali, Aida Ahadiany
Cast:  Mohsen Namjoo, Boshra Dastournezhad, Bella WardaAli TahbazMahmood SchrickerMohammad Talani, Sulyman QardashSiddique AhmedRaby Adib, Lars Ulrich
Part of: surprise Viennale preview
Seen on: 13.8.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Pars Radio is the Bay Area’s Persian language radio station. They have a big day ahead of them: They are visited by the first Afghan rock band Kabul Dreams (Sulyman Qardash, Siddique Ahmed, Raby Adib) who are supposed to meet up with Metallica at the station to jam. But nobody knows exactly when Metallica might arrive and they still have a lot of more or less scheduled program to go through, putting station manager Hamid (Mohsen Namjoo) under quite a lot of stress as he butts heads with pretty much everybody else there.

Radio Dreams was a very funny film in a quiet way, and a great look at a subculture that allows for many political topics to be present. I enjoyed it, though I didn’t absolutely love it.


After I left the film, I was almost sad that I don’t speak Persian and that I can’t listen to Pars Radio, because I think I would love to listen to it in real life. The program that day ranges from stories that listeners send in about their lives, to educative programs (one of which forces one of the station’s interns to sing a song in Russian) to Kabul Dreams, always interrupted by handmade, live-played ads. It’s a heady mix and I, for one, loved it.

The station’s program is not the only thing that doesn’t lack absurdity, but yet still maintains a sense of dignity – it’s the same for the characters. They are all pretty weird and definitely show the overemphasized traits that are normal for characters in a comedy, but they are also all human, and never caricatures. It’s a difficult balance to keep, but they manage, aided by the strong performances of the entire cast.

radiodreams1Despite the fact that I loved so much about the film, it didn’t completely manage to win me over. It was a bit too slow, didn’t have enough direction for my taste and the direction it did have was a bit too obivous – you just knew where things were going right from the start.

That’s not to say that the way there wasn’t enjoyable – because it certainly was. I suspect that if I had more connection to Persian culture myself (though that is far from the only topic present in the film), I would have loved it to bits. But there is just a bit of distance that remains – maybe because the film simply wasn’t made for me, but for the Persian diaspora.

radiodreams2Summarizing: Worth seeing, definitely.

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