Skip to Content

Terrestrial Verses

آیه‌های زمینی

Directed by Ali Asgari, Alireza Khatami

Cast: Bahram Ark, Gouhar Kheir Andish, Hossein Soleymani, Majid Salehi

Official Selection, Un Certain Regard, 2023 Cannes Film Festival

A new father’s name for his baby is rejected as impermissible. A man is confronted with unusual inquiries when renewing his drivers’ license. A woman just wants to get her dog back. They and six other ordinary Tehran residents are presented to the camera, talking to an unseen bureaucrat or intermediary, a disembodied voice asserting its power in everyday exchanges that would be hilarious if they were not also terrifying.

Directors Alireza Khatami and SDAFF-alum Ali Asgari build these protracted, single-take dialogues into a finely-structured play between society’s powerful and the assumed-powerless. Inspired by a Forough Farrokhzad poem, the filmmakers embroider thematic rhymes throughout: assertions of identity, techniques of wearing somebody down. A common refrain involves covering and revealing the body, especially through the hijab. The outcome of each exchange follows the dominant script, but the negotiations – comical, intimate, strange, exasperating – reveal the pounding heart of resistance, an earthquake in more ways than one, culminating in an other-worldly tremble no less surreal than the ordinary snapshots that preceded it. TERRESTRIAL VERSES is a film for a post-Mahsa Amini Iran and a model for returning the gaze of power everywhere.

– Brian Hu


Co-presented by the Persian Cultural Center

Dates & Times


Edwards Mira Mesa

Thu, Nov 9
8:45 pm