Shahrbanoo captures with remarkable sensitivity the complex levels on which people can relate for all the class, cultural and national barriers between them. – LA WEEKLY

Shahrbanoo is an unlikely story. The encounter of an American woman with a super-conservative Iranian family living in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Tehran was surely not an accident waiting to happen. The centerpiece of the story is Melissa who was visiting her new husband’s family in Tehran last autumn. She was befriended by Shahrbanoo who has been moonlighting as her mother-in-law's housekeeper for more than a quarter of a century without the knowledge of her own family. Shahrbanoo invites Melissa -- and her husband with his ever-present camera in tow -- to a family gathering where she is t treated to an intense cultural exchangeabout subjects ranging from women’s place in society to American foreign policy. But this is not a movie about politics. It is a heart-warming, alternatively hilarious, harrowing and heartrending, testimony to the hidden ties that connect us across vast cultural gulfs.

Special thanks to the family of Shahrbanoo for opening their home and hearts to us.

Praise for Shahbanoo:

A fascinating and often surprising look at an Iran usually absent from the headlines and far from the TV cameras. – Richard Pena
I absolutely loved it! Shahrbanoo captures the warmth and very human attraction between women of such different cultures, backgrounds and personalities...It movingly renders the kinds of friendships that seem almost inevitable between American and Iranians when they have a chance to reach each other across the walls of misunderstanding that have been constructed between the two peoples. – Godfrey Cheshire
A sensitive, nuanced film about the hospitality of Iranians toward Westerners that counters their stereotypes of belligerence and intolerance. Incisive and humorous too boot. – Hamid Naficy

In an atmosphere of goodwill and sincere interest Sharhbanoo [offers]…a glimpse of everyday Iranian life. – Peter Chelkowski

A film by Hamid Rahmanian
Produced by Melissa Hibbard
Music by Mohammad Reza Lotfi

Documentary. 56 minutes, ©2002 Original format - digital video
creening format - Beta and DVD (NTSC or PAL)

Study Topics

Islamic World Studies
Women's Studies
Human Rights
Film Studies