Ayat Najafi’s enthralling doc No Land’s Song (2014) is about his sister Sara’s attempts to stage a concert in Tehran featuring female soloists. Following the Islamic revolution of 1979 female singers were banned from performing solo in public, unless to an exclusively female audience. Iran has a history of iconic female singers, such as Qamar al- Molouk Vaziri, Delkash and Googoosh. Now their recordings are only available on the black market. Sara – a composer – and her friends feel keenly the loss of the female voice in Iran. Sara decide to plan a public concert of Persian music with singers Parvin Namazi and Sayeh Sodeyfi.
He tells her “No decent man sitting in public and listening to music should get sexually aroused. He mustn’t deviate from his normal condition.” These episodes are in stark contrast to the light and colour of her Paris visits. The French musicians Sara works with are by turn excited and frustrated by the bureaucracy of the state and its indecision about granting them visas and whether the concert can go ahead. Eventually, in 2013, the authorities decide that the foreign musicians can come to Tehran but, fearful of another Green Wave (uprising), the concert is postponed until after the presidential elections in June. When the musicians finally arrive in September, the authorities again get cold feet after Emel posts an incautious message on Facebook. Sara receives complaints that the women’s voices are too loud in rehearsal and that they aren’t taking proper care with their hijabs. Made in partnership with Al Jazeera English and TV5 Monde, No Land’s Song is a provocative and compelling film about fighting repression and injustice with music – the featured songs are about hope, freedom and rebellion. It speaks volumes about the treatment of women and freedom of expression in Iran today and is both entertaining and profoundly moving.