History’s silent victims: "Silent House" review

English Daily #2
Silent House (2022) / Regional Panorama
Farnaz Jurabchian/Mohammad Reza Jurabchian
12.7 12:30 Moscow Cinema Blue Hall
13.7 19:30 Moscow Cinema Blue Hall

It is rare that a family history is so tightly entwined with the history of the country. Even rarer are the instances when that history is documented step by step. Siblings Farnaz and Mohammad Reza Jurabchian found themselves in this rarest of positions. 500 hours of home-made footage, documenting the last 40-50 years of Iran through the perspective of their family’s three generations. All condensed into the 100-minute documentary Silent House. Family members plotting and turning against each other with the Islamic Revolution and its consequences in the backdrop, while still continuing to live in the same mansion. In fact, most of everything we see takes place in the titular house in Tehran, which at one point belonged to the 4th wife of Reza Shah Pahlavi, Queen Esmat. The directors’ grandmother even claims that the house was where a secret pre-Tehran Conference meeting took place between Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt in 1943. In any case, the intrigues this house becomes witness to throughout the film do to a certain extent mirror political power plays and scheming with separate groups within the family rivaling for control of the house and the family’s fate. The fiercest deterioration comes forth after 1979. The family does not only experience history, but falls victim to it. Therefore it is not at all surprising that after the film’s premiere at IDFA last November, the directors were banned from leaving Iran for other festivals. However, it seems that the ban is now lifted, which means that Farnaz and Mohammad Reza can rejoin their film in its travels across the world.

Artur Vardikyan