Went to the screening of seemingly straightforward “The Iran Job”, which I expected to be an OK movie about an American guy heading to Iran to play basketball. I anticipated some cultural differences and a few giggles perhaps, but what I encountered was so much more than that.
I feared it would turn out to be one of those stereotypical American movies where “America is the greatest” and “haha look at those silly Iranians” would be kind of the overall theme. It wasn´t. Kevin Sheppard, the African American basketball player who didn´t make it to the NBA, had played in several other countries before he signed the contract for the Iranian Super League, which is one of Asia´s best basketball leagues. Sheppard manages to drag the audience into the movie at a very early stage with his jolly mood and his typical American ways of acting and his behavior. The filmmakers, and husband-and-wife Till Schauder and Sara Nodjuomi, did an extremely good job in the way the storytelling goes. While it reminds me of a typical HBO promo for a sporting event, it has the heartwarming scenes, the good little details, and ties in an overall bigger picture to the whole movie which makes Sheppard part of a bigger picture.
The movie is political. And then again it´s not. They could have made it all about politics, which I am really glad they didn´t. It is and important movie at this day and age, as it shows how much more than a third world country Iran is. Even as a country in crisis, even as a country with a “corrupt” government, and even with all the stereotypes we might have about Iran, this movie proves that interpersonal relationships are so much stronger than country borders and government policies. This movie is funny, witty, smart, realistic, and it is even damn entertaining. A lot of it rests on the shoulders of the intriguing main character, Kevin Sheppard, in the way he communicates with people, how his open-mindedness and charisma brings people together, and how he respects Iran traditions, but at the same time manages to implement his own way of life and values.
When it comes to the basketball itself, the movie is not far from an ordinary Hollywood sport movie blockbuster. The scenes from the basketball matches will have you on the edge of the seat as Kevin Sheppard takes the debut Super League team to historical accomplishments. This is such a great movie! It´s a REAL story, with REAL miracles and REAL people portraying an amazing little story as part of a bigger picture. Which is of course the situation of Iran.
We get to learn a lot about the Iranian traditions from the characters he gets to know, and what they say and do may come as a surprise to every other western citizen, as we learn that some of them like to party, smoke weed, and have ambitions about becoming movie stars, just as we are doing in the west.
The film is, of course, not without flaws. One can tell that the quality of sound and picture is not really living up to the big league, but all that doesn´t matter, as it is the story that does matter in this little jewel. The reception was good, and people looked very surprised and happy about the movie, and you could hear people talking about it all through the hallways. And who knows, this might just be an underdog, able to snatch up a prize from this festival.
Visit the movie´s webpage here
Watch the trailer here
By Daniel Thu