Monday, June 22, 2009

Networks air documentaries on Iran

In the midst of all the turmoil and protests resulting from the recent Iranian election, it's easy to forget that this week also marks the anniversary of a historical moment in that country's history: the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah and the establishment of an Islamic republic. However, this week both HBO and the National Geographic Channel are highlighting the nation with three different documentaries.

The best historical analysis of the U.S.-Iranian relationship most likely can be found on National Geographic. The British documentary “Iran and the West” airs tonight (Monday) at 8 pm. It's a two hour film that provides a detailed history of the past 31 years and includes interviews with President Jimmy Carter, from the Ayatollah Khomeini’s closest adviser and others that were closely involved in all the decisions from this period. Though I haven't seen it, it seems like a pretty even handed discussion of this rather tumultuous period and should be a great introduction for anyone who doesn't know a lot about the recent history.

HBO on the other hand is taking a more niche approach in the documentaries they air. The two films set for this week include The Queen and I and Be Like Others. The Queen and I is the portrait of an exiled documentarian who grew disillusioned with the ayatollah’s heavy-handed regime and becomes friends with the shah’s widow. It airs at 1:30am on Tuesday and at 2 pm on June 29. Both on HBO 2.

Be Like Others details Iran's bizarre but theoretically correct treatment of gay people: encouraging sex changes (which are sanctioned under Islam... homosexuality is not however). It airs at 7 pm on Wednesday on HBO2.

Both films most likely do not view Iran in a positive light, but they are certainly interesting case studies. So if you are interested in learning more about Iran, now seems like a great time to tune into the documentary world to get your fix.

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