Break the Silence

The subtitles of Sounds of Silence are almost unnecessary. Just by watching Iranian rock band O-Hum bounce around like Pearl Jam and rapper Soroush confront the camera like he's Biggie Smalls, you get the documentary's message: Western pop has crept into the Islamic republic and has had a huge effect on the county's sizable under-30 population (even though they're about ten years behind us). But you can still learn plenty from the subtitles, such as the facts that Iranian rockers don't necessarily renounce tradition (14th-century Muslim poet Hafez is as big an influence as Dylan), the country's lack of copyright laws helped spread music, and there's a Persian word that can be translated into "homey."

It's a much different view of Iran than what we usually see -- one reason it's showing at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Iranian Film Festival. "For us, it's always about showing quality films," says MFAH film curator Marian Luntz. But she adds, "We welcome the opportunity to familiarize audiences with Iran as depicted by many talented filmmakers -- often in contrast to what's said and shown on the news." -- Nick Keppler

For more on the Iranian Film Festival, check out this week's Night & Day� section. We'll also tell you about one improvisational jazz legend, two homicidal old ladies, three rules of extreme fighting (and there are only three) and four bands named Novox.

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