Land of Dreams
Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari
Set in the near future in a world where the Census Bureau has become one of the most important institutions in America, census collector Simin’s daily routine consists of interviewing people about their dreams. She records the conversations and passes them on to her supervisors. In an effort to understand her identity as an Iranian woman in America, she has created an alter ego on social media. Here, she performs the dreams she hears on a daily basis translated into Farsi and soon her vlog becomes popular in Iran. On her trips throughout America, she crosses paths with two men: the John Wayne-like American macho Alan and poet Mark, who is stuck in the Beatnik era. One says he wants to help her, and the other claims to love her.
Director and visual artist Shirin Neshat calls her satirical film a product of the era of the Trump administration, large corporations and social media. Dreams are our fears, longings, desires, the most intimate things that have already ended up on a conveyor belt. Land of Dreams started as a photography project together with Iranian artist Shoja Azari. It grew into a film with a screenplay by Buñuel’s screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière, who passed away this year, and recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival. Actors Matt Dillon, Isabella Rossellini, Anna Gunn and many others come together to bring this bright Americana caricature to life. Sheila Vand, one of the best-known actresses of Iranian heritage, plays the role of Simin. Some might remember her as the hijab-clad vampire from the black-and-white western A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014).