Like holding a hand-full of sand, the Iranian/French/Tunisian film “Bab Aziz” sifts through my memory of visual and audial delights. It played to a small screen here in San Francisco, and I was fortunate enough to see it. Certain scenes of this “Iranian Cenemapoem” gave me shivers, touched my heart, and gave my soul a layer of the joy of living. My soul knew, absolutely, that when I die, and I will die eventually, heaven or eternity will be similar to this movie. Ever since seeing this movie, the idea of wandering in a desert, telling stories and dancing, meeting poets, musicians, and madmen, all for the eventual discovery of a spiritual music and dance gathering HAS TO BE ETERNITY.
I loved the movie so much, I begged my friend Jeff Stot, an amazing Middle Eastern producer and musician, to come and see it. He enjoyed it and saw it a second time with some Persian musicians he worked with (they were not as enthused as we were about the movie). I rarely see a movie twice, but I had a hunch that “Bab Aziz” would not be for rent any time soon in my local video store (or, more presently online).
I was correct in assuming this. Not knowing Farsi or Arabic, I have tried to purchase this DVD over the years. I went to many many DVD stores in New York City looking for it. I’ve looked online too, but there is not really an English audience for this movie. I frequently go to YouTube to find segments of “Bab Aziz” to share with people who seem to have a mystical or spiritual depth. Doing this a few days ago, I discovered that Middle Eastern people are posting the full-length movie on YouTube. I found one with no subtitles, and another with Turkish subtitles. Then, I found one in 9 parts with English subtitles. The person who posted the videos describes the movie as an “Iranian Cinemapoem; A poetic glimpse of ‘Sufi-Darvish’ vision and way of life! A philosophical Sufi story.”
Yes to all three. Finally, after years of watching the segments of the movie sift from my memory, I got to watch it again. It was a little bit-mapped, but the tears and shivers came again. And the deep soul-knowing of my connection to music, as natural as walking or breathing, rang true again. Like a meditation bell or a soul clap: we can feel the truth when it comes to us.
Please watch… sharing this movie may help one understand parts of themselves. It is also from a country much maligned in the US media right now. Iranian leaders may call us “satan” but Iranians are humans after all, and some are capable of making great art.