What Iranians Really Want: A Unique Glimpse in Honor of the Persian New Year

What do you wish for on the holiday? Not to go to the army, for my son to come and visit, to win the lottery, for our leader to be healthy. A human and honest look at the residents of Tehran on the Persian New Year.

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'Friendship': A screenshot from the video.

“My son Shahin, I’d like him to come and visit and make me happy,” one woman wishes for herself. “No to go to the army,” wished another. “Anything a friend gives me is a blessing,” said another. “Someone who will pay my expenses,” says a fourth. A bespectacled boy asks for a basketball. Other people wish for a big house, a car, gold, clothing, a cello, good news, flowers and a balloon. “Give Mr. Rohani my holiday gift,” said one older man of the Iranian president.

The MiM Studio in Tehran, operated by Hanif Shoaei, Meysam Mirzendehdel, Mehran Bolhasani and Mohammad Shahhoseini, created the video clip “Tehran 1393," combining the name of the Iranian capital and 1393, the Persian year, in honor of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, which was celebrated this month. In the video clip they ask people in the street various questions about Nowruz, such as what they wish for themselves for the holiday, what gifts they want, with whom they want to spend the holiday and what item beginning with an “s” they would like to add to the holiday table, as is customary on Nowruz. (One of the respondents says: “Samsung.”)

The clip was discovered and translated into Hebrew by the members of TeHTel, the initials of Tehran-Haifa-Tel Aviv, a University of Haifa website that translates articles and posts from Hebrew to Persian and gives Iranians a glimpse at the daily life of Israelis.

“Instinctively, the sights and sounds seem familiar to us from our own preparations, as Israelis, for the holiday. With a few changes this is a clip that we could have made now before Passover in the streets of Israel, so that it creates a certain identification for us,” says Yoni Shadmi, the editor and founder of TeHTel. “On the other hand, the clip doesn’t toady to the viewer, and doesn’t present a false picture of Iran. A clip that wanted to ingratiate itself with the West would present only smiling people with a Western bias, exemplifying happiness and lightness.

“But the clip offers a variety of Iranian perspectives, for example a woman who is asked what she wants for the holiday and replied ‘health for our leader,’ a reply that may sound incredulous to Westerners. Another interviewee suggests that the interviewers send holiday blessings to Hassan Rohani, the president of Iran, and another man says with a sad smile that ‘There’s nobody to give me nine (gifts), I only give.’”

Iran has a diversified film industry that includes a large number of small independent groups, with areas of expertise such as 3D animation and virtual tours. MiM Tehran is a studio of that type,” says Shedmi. The MiM Studio creates both independent film clips and films commissioned by clients. On the studio’s modest YouTube channel and website, one can see time-lapse clips of the roads of Tehran at night and of the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque in Isfahan, alongside a clip of the Asian wall-climbing championship.

“The homesickness for Iran doesn’t end, perhaps also in light of the hostility between the two countries, which doesn’t let me visit my homeland,” says Sharona Sulimani, TeHTel’s Persian –language consultant. “Iranian citizens like those we meet in the film, like Israeli citizens, are good, ordinary, normal people who want to live their lives, just like us. I wonder whether the time hasn’t come to leave the grudge aside and see one another as human beings whose only desire is to live in peace and coexistence.”