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“The Iran Job” : Can hoops bridge the cultural divide?

Broadcast Wednesday, March 5th, 10-11 a.m. Central (1500 GMT) on, archived here. Note: subscribers can listen to shows on-demand before they are broadcast – and also get free downloads! If you are a subscriber, just log in to the members area of and go to the “Private Blog” to get early access to the shows. 

The Iran Job is a brand-new film (its DVD release will happen almost simultaneously with this broadcast) following the adventures of Kevin Sheppard, an American basketball player who becomes a star in Iran.

Though I’m not quite down with its cultural politics, this is an outstanding documentary: Well-conceived, beautifully-crafted, and blessed with strong “reality performances” from the charismatic Sheppard and co-stars. It’s great fun watching the cultural communications and miscommunications as Sheppard does to the A.S. Shiraz basketball team what Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did to the 1970 Milwaukee Bucks: He takes a bunch of young far-from-champs and turns it into a winning team.

The part I’m not down with is that this film, like virtually everything produced in English about Iran, blithely takes for granted the superiority of Western consumer-culture hedonism over Islam. Two of the things I love about Iran are the modesty-demanding dress code – frankly, I wish it were even more demanding – and the ban on alcohol, by far the most destructive drug in existence with the possible exception of nicotine. (I’m not saying every country needs follow these norms; but does the whole globe have to become an openly drunken & degenerate McWorld?)

The Iran Job, which tells its story from an entirely “Iranian gusano” point of view that would certainly resonate among the privileged elite of North Tehran and Los Angeles (but maybe not with the less-privileged Iranians of South Tehran and Qom and Mashhad and the provinces) not only entertained and impressed me, it also pissed me off. The result was an appreciative but occasionally prickly interview with The Iran Job‘s writer-director-cinematographer Till Schauder and producer Sara Nodjoumi. Check it out!

2 Thoughts to ““The Iran Job” : Can hoops bridge the cultural divide?”

  1. Anonymous

    What do you mean about wanting Iran to have a more modest dress code? Covered faces?

  2. No, I'd like to see Western dress completely taboo there (preferably without a government ban). Why not stick with traditional loose-fitting Persian clothing on both men and women? It's sickening how the whole world is aping the West with tight-fitting pants, suits and ties, revealing & provocative whore-trash on women, etc. I don't know much about traditional Persian dress, but what I see, I like. In Morocco, I wish everyone wore loose-fitting, whole-body-covering djellabas. Dress is a matter of imitation or aping the people around us, and it carries a message about what culture we belong to, and (in the case of non-Western cultures aping Western dress) what culture we feel is superior to the one we belong to. Islam demands modesty of both men and women. Rather than just forcing women to cover hair (and saying beyond that, anything goes) it would make a lot more sense for everyone to wear loose-fitting Islamic clothing, which is vastly more comfortable and beautiful anyway.

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