The Unseen


  • Behzad Nalbandi
  • Iran
  • 2019
  • 61 min
  • International Premiere
  • Luminous

In preparation for visits from foreign dignitaries, the authorities in Tehran clear the streets of homeless people, sex workers and drug addicts. Those who get picked up are taken to special detention centers outside the city. Stripped of their rights, dignity and freedom, the authorities hold them there until the eyes of the outside world are directed elsewhere. Then the men are released to go back out onto the streets. But the women are not: instead, they become official state prisoners for life.

Behzad Nalbandi found ways around the official channels and gained access to one of the women’s prisons, where he used a sound recorder to document the harrowing stories of its inmates. Original stop-motion animations illustrate their accounts of violence, humiliation, poverty and addiction, as well as Nalbandi’s own impressions of the bleak detention center. The use of animation allows Nalbandi to offer these “invisible” women a platform without exposing their identity. What this documentary does reveal, is the grim reality concerning the position of women in Iranian society—these women in particular.


  • 61 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Persian
  • Subtitles in: English
Behzad Nalbandi
Behzad Nalbandi
Behzad Nalbandi
Behzad Nalbandi
Behzad Nalbandi

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