While in Holland gathering content for this issue, the Griots Republic team took the opportunity to attend a screening of Raving Iran with Blade & Beard, the Iranian DJs and production duo. The DJ’s, Arash Shadram and Anoosh Rakizade, are rising stars on the deep house music scene, yet their story is truly deeper than anything they’ve likely conjured up musically.

As DJs in Iran, where music is heavily regulated and electronic music, specifically, is completely illegal, you can imagine the idea of carving out a career in house music seems like a non-starter. Yet, Arash and Anoosh, whose only dream is to play in festivals across Europe, are completely in love with the craft and the music, and they proceed anyway. They bribe people. They get arrested. Their equipment gets confiscated. They get beat up, and they go to jail; yet, they continue to push forward. Despite all of these dangerous obstacles, they keep organizing underground raves and illegal parties out in the desert.
After producing a record, again – illegally, they threw a metaphorical hail Mary and submitted it to a major music festival in Switzerland for consideration, and this is where life changes for them. The remainder of the film is spent by their side every waking moment as they consider whether or not to give up their homeland and become refugees. This portion of the documentary is emotional, it’s draining, and even if you have the empathy of a sponge, you’ll feel this.

On a much broader level, Rob and Anoush are every single person who has gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired and Raving Iran is a drawn out examination of that exact moment when those people decide something has got to give. In any other skin and time, they’d be Ms. Celie fixin’ to shave master or Dap screaming “Wake up” at the end of School Daze. But those are movies, and this is real life, where passion and dreams can only hit a wall for so long before they die or prevail. This story is as relatable as it gets and as it moves through the film festival circuit, I implore you to see it.

For more information on Raving Iran and its viewing schedule visit RavingIran.com

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