Band Killings Are Tragic Denouement For Cannes Prize Winner ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats’

Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi’s No One Knows About Persian Cats was the opening night film of the Cannes Un Certain Regard sidebar in 2009. A hot title at the time, it was plagued with political controversy when Ghobadi’s girlfriend and co-screenwriter was arrested in Tehran a month before the festival. An American-Iranian journalist, Roxana Saberi was convicted of espionage after a one-day trial and given an eight-year prison sentence. The news made headlines when then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Saberi’s release. Ultimately, there was a happy ending when her conviction was overturned on appeal and the film about underground musicians trying to escape censorship in Tehran went on to win the UCR Special Jury prize. It later landed in several international festivals, and IFC Films released it in the U.S. Fast-forward to this week, and life has imitated art for the movie that itself ends on a note of tragedy. The Yellow Dogs, a band that was featured in the film, lost two of its members on Monday in a shooting in Brooklyn. Brothers Soroush and Arash Farazmand were killed at their home in East Williamsburg along with another man who toured with the band this year. The suspected killer, a musician who was not part of the Yellow Dogs, is then beleived to have turned a high-powered assault rifle on himself. The band had attended Cannes in 2009, and after earning notoriety there, fled Iran for asylum in the U.S. The four-person group went on to play at SXSW and various New York clubs. Band manager Ali Salehezadeh told the Associated Press the band wanted to be known for its music. “I guess now we have a gun story,” he said. For her part, Saberi wrote in a blog post, “Such tragic news. I’m so very sorry for them and their families.”

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