How does a female song affect men?

Music in IranSolos forbidden for women

It is September 19, 2013, in the evening in Tehran. Sara Najafi, a young woman with a headscarf, is standing on the stage of a large concert hall.

"Why I am committed to this project: The female voice in Tehran has been forgotten. We would like to bring it back."

Sara Najafi is an attractive, self-confident woman, for whom even the obligatory headscarf looks like a tastefully selected accessory. She is an excellent singer, songwriter and fights to be able to use these talents in Iran as well. But that's still difficult in Iran, because female solo singing has been banned since the Islamic revolution.

"There are a lot of restrictions for a woman and a musician in Iran. Much has improved in recent years. As a child, I wasn't allowed to tell anyone outside of the family that I had a piano at home. These are restrictions that shape my character , a constant censorship that you internalize. "

A concert that shouldn't actually take place

"No Land's Song" is a film about the genesis of a concert that shouldn't actually exist. Ayat Najafi documents his sister Sara's fight. She wants to perform with several female voices. Her aim is to pay homage to the legendary Iranian singer Quamar, who was the first woman in Iran to perform in front of a large audience in 1924. What the Shiite theologians have against the female voice has never really been substantiated. Sara Najafi, however, wants to know - from the religion teacher Abdolnabi Jafarian. He invites the film team to his apartment. When Sara's question about the reasons for the ban, he explains that the female voice could upset the man.

"We shouldn't eat or drink anything that throws us off course and intoxicates us. Likewise, a righteous man who just listens to music shouldn't feel sexual arousal."

The charms of the music and the female voice could sexually arouse the man, the clergyman continues: A piece of cheese is good, a grape too, but both together may be too much. A theological explanation of the ban that impresses director Ayat Najafi more rhetorically than content:

"I think the Ayatollahs are the best actors Iran has ever had. I don't know what exactly they are studying, but they know how to behave towards the camera to come across well. He never looked at Sara , always into the camera. He spoke to a larger audience. For me, this is a scene that says a lot about Iranian society: We have this ideology - and this ideology has power in Iran. But we also have these people on the other side, who do not take this ideology and this power seriously. And there you can see the resistance in Iranian society. "

Women's voices throw men off balance

No Land's Song "is a sarcastic and very direct inventory. The film documents the shades of gray of the dictatorship: the religious teachers, the cultural bureaucrats with their great understanding and their quick prohibitions. The film shows a society that has learned it with absurd prohibitions to live ignoring them.

"Today Iran is not a classic dictatorship. It is a very complicated system and there are different rulers. There are definitely the secret services, then the clergy, and then there is the government. But this is not a government for everyone. It is a mixture of secret services and theocrats. But there are also people in the Iranian government who not only like critical projects like ours, but also support them. "

Sara Najafi fought for her project for almost three years. The film is also a journey through the political turning points in Iranian society: the suppression of the protest movement in 2007 or the unfulfilled hopes that were linked to the election victory of the reformer Hassan Rouhani in the Iranian presidential elections in 2013. "No Land's Song" is also the story of a cultural bridge, because Sara makes contact with French singers and also integrates the Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi, the voice of the Tunisian revolution, into her project. For Sara Najafi, the female voice is a metaphor: For her, it's about freedom. For her, the fight against the ban on female solo voices is also a fight against repression in Iranian society:

"When you grow up as a girl in Tehran, you get to hear at school: A good girl keeps her head down and says: Yes. With this film I also wanted to show: No, a good girl says no and holds her head up and do what it wants, as much as it can and as much as possible. "

"No Lands Song" is a lively, multi-layered documentary, never instructive, but very instructive. Ayat Najafi is always there with his camera, inconspicuous, but always right in the middle. A film that tells a lot about Iranian society, the city of Tehran and a rousing commitment to the freedom of music.