Beijing Opera on a Persian Carpet – A Family in the Clash of Cultures

A film by Frank Sieren
30 minute documentary
Premiere: March 8, South by Southwest Film Festival, Texas, USA
First television broadcast: 05.02.2009 on ZDF
The atheistic Chinese and the religious Iranians have already been doing business worth billions for a number of years. The more the USA increases the pressure, the more the Chinese and the Iranians move together politically. Now there is also to be more of a cultural exchange. At the invitation of the Iranian government almost twenty Bejing opera performers are traveling to Iran. Never before has Beijing opera been performed in Iran. Are the Mullahs aware of what they are letting themselves in for? How will the strict Iranian censors react to the plays? How will the Iranians and Chinese get along with one another?
Ghaffar Pourazar stands in the middle of these two worlds. The exiled Iranian has already been living in China for 15 years and is the only western foreigner with a complete Beijing opera certification. He grew up in Iran, went to school in Cambridge, was a computer animator in London and has lived in China for 12 years. Ghaffar has a British passport. His parents are Americans. His family lives in Teheran, Los Angeles and Germany. China and Iran – two nations that are more than 2000 years old share the same pride of their country and over the centuries the same enemies. Today they stand shoulder to shoulder against the west. Ghaffar now gets to meet his Iranian family again after 15 years – with twenty Chinese in tow. His 28 year old cousin Haleh has never left Iran. Visas to the west are rarely granted to Iranians. On the other hand to obtain a visa for China is easy. Will China now become an option for their future instead of the unwelcoming west? Will the Chinese and the Iranians become friends for life? Or are they just forming an alliance of convenience against the west?