The shoestring budget film "Velayatnameh", set decades in the future, features all manner of things that include a robot, quantum leaps and the requisite cat video,

"Velayatnameh" and the Islamic Revolution
Low-budget sci-fi film shatters Iran’s sacred red lines

A sci-fi film lampooning the Islamic Republic and all that its regime holds sacred premiered quietly at a nondescript venue in Los Angeles in July. The title, “Velayatnameh”, is a spoof on Ferdowsi's “Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings”

The shoestring budget film is set decades in the future and features all manner of things that include a robot, quantum leaps and the requisite cat video, shattering the mystique of the Supreme Leader – though arguably not for most Iranians who have long since broken that taboo as evidenced by the escalating rhetoric of riot slogans.

Divided into five segments, each unfolding in a different era in the future under a new supreme leader, the film shows a progression in the timeline but not so much in reform.

Set up to emphasise the digital aspect of the image, it opens with a despairing supreme leader seated in his living room in a futuristic high-rise summoning a drone with a camera to record his mea culpa. “I tried to stop the corruption but couldn’t. You pull the curtain and find bonyads plundering the country,” he says, referring to the shadowy parastatal structures that have a stranglehold on major aspects of Iran’s economy.

“I tried to solicit the help of officials to counter this, but was unable to,” he concludes.

And then the fun starts, intertwined with dark humour and moments that tilt just this side of blasphemy, at least for a staunch supporter of the Islamic Republic.

© Newlines 2022

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