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Italian, Persian with English subtitles
Country of Origin: Islamic Republic of Iran
Director: Nasser Pooyesh
Producer: Nasser Afshari

A sound is heard from the depth of the soil as the archeological exploration of the Shahre Sukhte goes on. While following the archeologists to document the explorations, the film in parallel seeks out the sound coming from the depths of the soil and steps deep in history to accompany the ancient citizens of the city.
The film depicts the wonderful city of “Shahre Sukhte” (The Burnt City) in Zabol in Iran, which was home to one of the highest civilizations at the dawn of history lasting for over 1400 years. In this city was no central government or leadership in Shahr-e-Sukhte. The government was administered by a group that was matriarchal, meaning that power was in the hands of women. It may be for this reason that we witness no trace of violence and war in this city. Something that the world today desperately needs.

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Director Biography – Nasser Pooyesh

From 1990, Naser Pouyesh began his activities in media as a film critic and chief editor. Then he worked as a director assistant for a short time. He produced 150 documentaries on archeology.

Referring to the film, Nasser Pooyesh, the director and producer said: “The interesting thing for me about Shahr-e-Sukhte was how a civilization survived for 1400 years without fortification, weapons and war, while no civilization has lasted this long throughout history.” He continued: “We know here was no central government or leadership in Shahr-e-Sukhte. The government was administered by a group which was matriarchal, meaning that power was in the hands of women. It may be for this reason that we witness no trace of violence and war in this city.”
He believes that this film is not archeological at all. Archeology is the beginning of the passage from reality to the truth.
The famous director of Hollywood’s statement about The Burnt City:
The Burnt City documentary is produced very beautiful. It is so important historically and all people will be attracted by watching it.

A look at the Docu-drama Film on Shahr-e-Sukhteh by Nasser Pooyesh
The footprint of people from beyond history
Alireza Behnam
Translation: Mojtaba Ahmad Khan

The civilization of Iranshahr is no short of secrets. The entire plateau of Iran is covered with mounds, which hold many ancient tales in their bosom. The Shahr-e-Sukhteh civilization to the south of Sistan and Baluchistan holds one of the oldest secrets of this ancient territory.
The Shahr-e-Sukhteh documentary film is an attempt to approach this mysterious past and to unfold the first known urbanization located today in the southeastern parts of the country. As a research documentary the film has a good opening. The images of surveys on an ancient mound with a cut in of explanations by Iranian and foreign researchers at the beginning of the film creates the ideal setting for questions. Based on the explanations of Dr. Sajjadi, the Head of Survey Team, we understand that relics of earthenware and skeletons of people living six thousand years ago have been discovered while an Italian archeologist interprets the findings and proposes theories on their mode of living. The attraction of this part of the film is in that both reports are presented in parallel, and there is no attempt by the director to highlight any part of these explanations. However, as the film progresses, his imagination seems to take him from realities and evidences to recreate the life of people, of whom our knowledge is truly “negligible”. In using his imagination in this reconstruction he goes to such extent as to create a language and to accompany the sentences told in this fictional dialect with subtitles. Furthermore, with an eye on the burial ceremonies and terracotta vessels left behind from this mysterious civilization, his imagination guides him to restore the scenes in a setting that recall the desert villages. It is at this junction that following the course of excavations is pushed to the background and the director’s vision in portraying the lives of people six thousand years ago becomes the focus of narration.
Andre Breton among the first theoreticians of Avant-garde cinema believed that re-enactment of reality was the greatest mission of a documentary film. In an article, Breton wrote: “The best documentaries are the analytical ones. It means they show an angle of the reality that is not dealt with as an observable truth. Instead, it is perceived as a social and historical truth, that can only generate reactions in a weave of energies. Secondly, these documentaries that are produced have no claim whatsoever to exactitude, but form their subject actively on the basis of structure, organization and their point of view. So, it is important to note that documentaries are made like any other feature film. They may not be considered are the record of reality, but they are another form of representing it.”
On this basis, we may consider Shahr-e-Sukhteh as an attempt to represent a reality, from which over long bygone years, we have received pieces, and have no choice but to stick them together with the glue of our imagination to perceive a vision of what has come to pass in this place on earth.
This may well be the reason why Pooyeh avoids highlighting the brilliant archeologic discoveries of Shahr-e-Sukhteh and passes them over with just a mention of the animation design on the urn discovered in the region. He even turns the artificial prosthesis eye discovered in a crypt in Shahr-e-Sukhteh into a secondary theme in the film’s chronicle, meaning that the girl, who used the prosthesis six thousand years ago, takes precedence over the scientific importance of the discovered object.
Thus, instead of merely reporting the archeologic surveys, the Shahr-e-Sukhteh documentary seeks a reality, which in the words of Breton are the “social and historical truths”. The interesting note in this reconstruction of reality is that in the course of this work, Pooyesh takes the opposite direction of the mainstream documentary film makers. Instead of shaping the main story around a true or imaginary hero, such as a researcher or even an imaginary ancient personality, he chooses to highlight the society and the social life, which is a difficult and a risky endeavour. The nameless woman-shaman or ailing girl in the film are as important as the contemporary local children, who pass and play along the archeologic trenches. In fact, in this manner, the six thousand-year history of this region of the world becomes the living history of its people.

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