Shahrbanoo is an unlikely story. The encounter of an American woman with a super-conservative Iranian family living in one of the poorest neighborhoods of Tehran was surely not an accident waiting to happen. The centerpiece of the story is Melissa who was visiting her new husband’s family in Tehran last autumn. She was befriended by Shahrbanoo who has been moonlighting as her mother-in-law’s housekeeper for more than a quarter of a century without the knowledge of her own family. Shahrbanoo invites Melissa — and her husband with his ever-present camera in tow — to a family gathering where she is t treated to an intense cultural exchangeabout subjects ranging from women’s place in society to American foreign policy. But this is not a movie about politics. It is a heart-warming, alternatively hilarious, harrowing and heartrending, testimony to the hidden ties that connect us across vast cultural gulfs.

  • A fascinating and often surprising look at an Iran usually absent from the headlines and far from the TV cameras. –Richard Pena, Programmer, Film Society, Lincoln Center
  • …Shahrbanoo captures with remarkable sensitivity the complex levels on which people can relate for all the class, cultural and national barriers between them. –Paul Malcolm, LA WEEKLY
  • I absolutely loved it! Shahrbanoo captures the warmth and very human attraction between women of such different cultures, backgrounds and personalities…It movingly renders the kinds of friendships that seem almost inevitable between American and Iranians when they have a chance to reach each other across the walls of misunderstanding that have been constructed between the two peoples. Since Iran has become part of the “axis of evil”, there is now an incredible need that this film and othes like is be shown and seen. –Godfrey Cheshire, Film Critic
  • A sensitive, nuanced film about the hospitality of Iranians toward Westerners that counters their stereotypes of belligerence and intolerance. Incisive and humorous too boot. —Hamid Naficy
  • In an atmosphere of goodwill and sincere interest Sharhbanoo [offers]…a glimpse of everyday Iranian life. —Peter Chelkowski, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, New York University