Tehran Blues

(Un blues para Teherán)
Javier Tolentino | Documentary, Musical

2020 | 80 minutes | Spain

The city’s musicians and poets take us on a musical tour of Iran’s capital in a charming film about a music culture rarely heard of in the West.


The city’s musicians and poets take us on a musical tour of Iran’s capital in a charming film about a music culture rarely heard of in the West.

Erfan is a poet and musician, and he lives with his parents and their lively parrot. From his small car, he guides us through Tehran, where the contrast between the tradition-bound and the culturally rich Iran emerges along the way and where music and stories are closely intertwined.

Each episode of Tehran Blues is preceded by a piece of music introduced and performed in its entirety by talented local musicians. It is illegal for women to sing in public, but the youths are burning to express themselves. The same is true for the fishermen and rice farmers around the Caspian sea, whom Erfan meets while trying to understand what love is in this musical, understatedly funny and highly charming indie film.


"An interesting look at the street musicians trying to preserve music that is being forgotten along with performances of those songs. This could be used in a music class or a sociology class to see a glimpse of Iranian society." — Skye M. Limón, EMRO

"What impressed me most with this film was its flow: The documentary focuses in and out, giving you intimate closeness with subjects and citizens before drawing away and showing us the landscape. The message it tries to get across, successfully in my view, is that Iran is much more complicated than we are led to believe in the West… This superior documentary is a must-have for library shelves. Editor's Choice." — J. Zimmerman, Video Librarian

"One of those major surprises that Spanish cinema sometimes gives us." — Mirito Torreiro, Fotogramas

"Starting from the roots of traditional music, [Tehran Blues] also reflects on the general situation in Iran, generational conflicts, and the presence or absence of love." — El Periódico

"A journey through the Middle Eastern republic in search of ancient Iranian songs, but from the point of view and voices of young people." — José González Vargas, El País

"A cinema that observes with meticulous sensitivity and manages to transcend the most prosaic layers of this liquid reality." — Claudio Utrera, La Provincia

Main credits

Tolentino, Javier (film director)
Tolentino, Javier (screenwriter)
Mora, Alejandra (film producer)
Miñarro, Luís (film producer)
Shafei, Erfan (on-screen participant)

Other credits

Cinematography, Juan López; editor, Sergi Dies; music, Tere Núñez.

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Goya Awards® - Best Documentary Film Nominee
San Sebastián International Film Festival
Copenhagen International Documentary Festival
Moscow International Film Festival
Morelia International Film Festival
London Spanish Film Festival

DIRECTOR: Javier Tolentino


YEAR: 2020

GENRE: Documentary, Musical


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



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