Los Angeles, CA
September 27,2004
Title: “Film Review: The Color of Love”
Author: Eddie Cockrell

Warm and wise, heartfelt docu "The Color of Love" sheds light on the changing face of love, sex and
relationships in contempo Iran. Likely to be an eye-opener for Western auds used to media images
portraying a strictly hidebound society, pic's length will limit theatrical even as subject will spark discussion
at fests and span the spectrum of tube and ancillary opportunities.

According to 29-year-old Iranian-born, New York-based helmer Maryam Keshavarz, some 70% of Iranians
are under 30. Pressed by the pervasive restrictions of an ancient culture on one side and easy access to
the Internet and illegal satellite TV on the other, young and old are suspended in an almost surreal world
between convention and progress.

The severity of tradition is illustrated in the weeklong Ashura festival, in which men mourn the death of 7th-
century saint Imam Hossein by flogging themselves and weeping in public. Ironically, the event also
provides young people the opportunity to mingle with little or no supervision, avoiding the culture police.

With Ashura the framework, Keshavarz employs eye-catching color-coded chapter cards as she surveys
members of her own family from different generations on the meaning of love. The furtive efforts of
teenagers Ahmad and Azadeh to get together in a country that has "suffocated true love" is red; while Zari,
who chafes under the artificiality of arranged courting sessions, symbolizes the blackness of a so-called
lost generation caught in the throes of change.

Thirtysomethings Ehson and Sara rep the modern middle-class, assigned blue for the temperate way in
which they've organized their fixed union to encompass the demands of two generations. By virtue of an
arranged marriage at 12 that has blossomed into a deep spiritual relationship, the open and adaptive
legacy of elderly widow Sharbanoo is white.

Though her parents emigrated to the U.S. in 1960, helmer summered in Iran and spent four years studying
Persian at the U. of Shiraz.

Expanded from a photo exhibit and subsequent eight-minute short made while a student at NYU's film
school, "The Color of Love" benefits from narrative clarity, budget-imposed brevity and an unforced
intimacy that yields a good deal of mischievous humor and candid conversation.

Cinefestival Magazine
Montreal, Canada
August 27,2004
Front page: Pop Culture
Title: “Cruising in Shiraz”
Author: Maurie Alioff/ info@ctvm.info

Maryam Keshavrz’s documentary, The Color of Love, implies that Iran’s huge population of young people is
chipping away steadily at the authoritarian rules restricting their lives. But if the kids are on the verge of
toppling the House of the Ayatollahs, it won’t be because their meeting in dank basements to plot a regime
change. Change will come because they are wearing lipstick and playing seduction games.
           “I had come up with the idea of asking how Iran has changed,” Keshavarz, a New York City- raised
Iranian-American, explains during a recent interview. “What are politics? Is there going to be a revolution?
But then I started to realize I was asking the wrong questions. Everyone kept talking about culture: “The
way dress has changes, the way marriage and divorce has changed.”
           In its exploration of a slowly emerging brave new world, The Color of Love challenges television
images of veiled Muslim woman looking spectral, devoid of personality and spirit. The film takes viewers
behind the veil into the private realms where people say and do whatever they like. Dressed in a T-short
and jeans, Keshavarz’s younger cousin Azadeh stretches out, sucking a lollipop, teasingly imploring the
filmmaker not to make her look like as if she’s sucking something else. Later on in the doc, Keshavarz’s
grandmother is being filmed from behind, and the elderly lady demands to knoe what is so fascinating
about her ass. The women in this movie come through as suprisingly irreverent, ironic, and articulate.
           Keshavarz’s film was shour in the ancient city of Shiraz during the festival of Ashura. We see
crowds of men flagellating themselves in a tightly choreographed ritual mourning the loss of the seventh
century saint, Imam Hussein. This and other details in the movie suggest that an old culture of death and
mourning is being challenged by nothing more complicated than a yearning for basic human experiences
like falling in love. In one scene, a young man waits for his beloved in a cemetery. There’s a bowl of fresh
oranges in the grave beside him.
           Ashura’s religious rites bring young people into candlelit streets where they engage in the teenage
ritual of cruising. They do it cautiously because the Morality Police can arrest them for attracting a boy’s
eye, or for inviting a girl into a car. How seriously should one take cops who run around preventing eye
contact? “You don’t want to get caught,” says Keshavarz. And what’s the likelihood of being harassed or
arrested? “It’s in waves, that’s the crazy thing. You can have complete freedom for a year, and all of a
sudden, there are crackdowns.”
           During the production for the film, Keshavarz sometimes got harassed, and one day she was
arrested on trumped up charges. She fully understands why young Iranians are “pushing boundaries and
negotiating around restrictions in different ways, just grabbing life by the horns and going and changing
things.” Keshavarz knows that Iranian society would become atrophied without “that vitality of this new
youth, of this sensuality.”
           At the same time, she continues, “A part of me feels a little bit sad.” Who wants Britney Spears to
replace a culture that in a city like Shiraz is Thousands of years old? Nobody wants the Morality Police, but
what about the poetry?
         One of the film’s ironies us that while Keshavarz admires the gutsiness if Iranian young people and
understands their yearning for the kind of life she has, a part of her is attracted to the traditional culture they
want to shed. Keshavarz remembers her uncle telling her that “the color of love is fading. People ince saw
love as happiness and mourning, happiness and difficulties. And difficulties were beautiful. They were a
part of our lives.”
         Keshavarz’s uncle laments a love without “sorrow, tears, and a willingness to drown in the sea.”

The Gazette
Montreal, Canada
August 28,2004
Front page: Pop Culture
Title: “An Iran Many Don’t Know: Film looks at nature of love & gender relations”
Author: Brendan Kelly, bkelly@thegazette.canwest.com

Rangeh Eshgh (The Color of Love) was originally meant to be an eight minute short, nothing more than a
university film project. But after the U.S. invaded Iraq last year, 29 year old director Maryam Keshavarz
decided it should be a mych bigger, more ambitious project.
          “It seems very pertinent right now with everything going on in the Middles East,” said Keshavarz, a
high energy, ultra-articulate New Yorker of Iranian background.
          The Color of Love, a 68-minute documentary that has its first public screening at the World Film
Festival today, is not about Iraq. It is a look at the politics of the personal in today’s Iran.
          More specifically, Keshavarz talks to several Iranians, including many members of her extended
family, about the nature of love and how the relations between the sexes are changing in a country not
exactly known for allowing men and women to meet, flirt and romance freely.
          This is not a film about Iran’s political system. Rather it is a lyrical, off the cuff snapshot of the real
lives of real people in Iran.

CONTINUED: Additional headline: “Color/ Iraq war makes film very timely”

Text (continued):
The reason Keshavarz thinks it’s so timely is that since the war in Iraq started, Americans-and others in the
West- have been presented with a monolithic picture of the Middle East and its people. One of the points of
her film is that we have to go beyond the footage of anti-American demonstrations in the region and try to
understand the people behind the sensational headlines.
          “It would complicate our foreign policy if we saw the real faces of these people,” Keshavarz said.
“It’s easier if we don’t see the human faces.”
          Keshavarz was filming in Iran when the bombs started dropping on Iraq last year, and drily noted
that she has now been in Iran during three Iraq wars (including the Iran-Iraq war and the first Gulf War0.
          “It made me think about politics,” said Keshavarz, who has visited Iran regularily since her
childhood. “It pushed me to rethink things.”
          The Color of Love shoes an Iran likely unfamiliar to most of us. It begins with the Ashura festival,
where men beat themselves in public, reinforcing our stereotypical ideas of Iranian culture. But we also see
younger Iranians surfing the Web on their home computers, checking out Ricky Martin videos and talking
about what they watch on satellite TV.
          There is talk of arranged marriages, but the film also shows young Iranians fighting to be able to
break the rules and actually marry for love. Keshavarz notes that more than 70 per cent of the Iranian
population is under 30 and says this younger generation is slowly but determinedly shifting the mores of the
          “They’re revolting in different ways,” said Keshavarz. “They’re not passive. I saw people arguing
with the police, There’s this energy there that’s so exciting.
          “Five years ago, when I went to university in Iran, it was hard to get Internet access. Now there are
Internet cafes and they’re watching Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (on the Web). Even though satellite
television is illegal, the government looks the other way. Even the most religious guys have satellite TV.
          “There are all these young people pushing the boundaries, but we don’t see that in the western
media. It’s not a revolution that’s going to happen. It is happening.”
          Keshavarz’s parents came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1960s, but Keshavarz would spend every
summer in the old country and went back to study at the University of Shiraz four years ago. She began
The Color of Love as a project for her master’s degree in the film program at New York University, and her
school helped her by providing equipment and technical support.
          When asked how a twentysomething student could finance such a project, Keshavarz stresses that
this is one very low budget flick.
          “You find a way. I was driven to so this film and I used every connection and every discount I could
find. It was just getting people to believe in the project.”

The Globe and Mail
Toronto, Canada
September 1,2004
Title: “World Film Festival Diary”
Author: Matthew Hays

Iranian-American filmmaker Maryam Keshavarz has premiered her first documentary here, Rangeh Eshgh
(The Color of Love). The 29 year-old New York based filmmaker says she was inspired to make the film
about everyday life in Iran after the bombs started dropping in Iraq. The film is a poetic and charming
glimpse into the lives of a number of Iranians, as the filmmaker interrogates them about their opinion on
love and romance. The film clearly illustrates the tension between younger Iranians, who yearn for
modernity, and the fundamentalist elders who run the state. The flirtations of two Iranian adolescents are
captured with great skill; as well, there is a particularly appealing grandmother with a penchant for blunt
one-liners. At one point, she turns to the camera that is following her and inquires: “Why do you want to
photograph my ass?”

The Gazette
Montreal, Canada
August 29,2004
Title: “Best Bet for Today and Tomorrow”
Author: Brendan Kelly

Maryam Keshavarz’s feature documentary is a fascinating snapshot of life in Iran. The New Yorker of
Iranian descent went to Iran to talk to ordinary people, including many members of her extended family,
about the meaning of love, and the result is an unusual exploration of the politics of the personal in this
repressive society. The film includes footage of men beating themselves during the Ashura festival, but the
more intriguing material includes younger Iranians ralking about how their generation has a radically
different view of love, sex and marriage. In Farsi with English subtitles.

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