The cardboard animation directed and produced by Behzad Nalbandi is about homeless women in Iran who are locked away, banished to the outskirts of the city, and made invisible. Nalbandi secretly conducted interviews in the camps and creates a world of his own to make those affected visible again.
The story of the documentary begins when foreign dignitaries are expected in Tehran. Therefore, the local authorities dedicate themselves to an “urban beautification” process that includes the rounding up of unsavory characters - drug addicts and prostitutes - from the streets. The men are released after a few days, but the women are kept as wards of the state in perpetuity. They are sent to holding centers on the outskirts of the city where no records are kept by the social workers.
This animated documentary attempts to give a voice to the homeless women.
It has probably been predicted that the Fajr Film Festival, currently underway in Tehran and several other cities across the country, would overshadow the animation box office receipts, therefore Nalbandi has joked with the festival and filmgoers in a poster for his film.
The poster carries a statement that reads “The Paper Simorgh goes to…”. The festival is awarded winners every year with Crystal Simorghs.
Nalbandi was named best director for “The Unseen” at the 12th Independent Celebration of Iranian Documentary Cinema in 2021.
“The Unseen” was nominated for the award for best animated feature film at the 13th edition of the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) in 2019, however, it failed to win the award.
It was also reviewed in Luminous, a non-competitive section at the 2019 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).