Directed by Hamid Rahmanian • 2002 • Iran
Shahrbanoo is an unlikely story. The encounter of an American woman with a super-conservative Iranian family living in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Tehran was surely not an accident waiting to happen. The centerpiece of the story is Melissa who was visiting her new husband’s family in Tehran in the autumn of 2000. She was befriended by Shahrbanoo who has been moonlighting as her mother-in-law's housekeeper for more than a quarter of a century without the knowledge of her own family. Shahrbanoo invites Melissa -- and her husband with his ever-present camera in tow -- to a family gathering where she is t treated to an intense cultural exchangeabout subjects ranging from women’s place in society to American foreign policy. But this is not a movie about politics. It is a heart-warming, alternatively hilarious, harrowing and heartrending, testimony to the hidden ties that connect us across vast cultural gulfs.