fifty-people-one-wish-tehranAmid constant media coverage on the latest, seemingly substantive and productivenuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1, new blustery threats of war leveled by both Israeli and American politicians, and talk of ever more crippling sanctions and the always supposedly imminent collapse of the Iranian economy (or not), something often gets overlooked: the people of Iran themselves.

The Western media rarely allows Iranians to speak for themselves, portraying them as either angry anti-American mobs or powerless victims of endless repression in direneed of saving.

Thankfully, two recent projects have attempted to document the humanity of actual living, breathing Iranians. The first is Brandon Stanton’s popular “Humans of New York,” a photographic travelogue of his two-week trip to Iran this past winter,described by Iran’s Pendar Magazine as “a great way of breaking media-propagated stereotypes… and showing the real face of Iran to the world.”

The second project is the Iranian entry in “Fifty People, One Question,” an ongoing short film series, interactive media project, and social experiment that “has . . . traveled across the globe, touching millions of viewers.”

The concept is simple: ask fifty ordinary people the question, “What do you wish to happen by the end of the day?,” and film their answers. The results are beautiful and touching, demonstrating the unity of human experience across language, country, and culture.

Shot on location in Tehran’s Gisha neighborhood, filmmaker Ali Molavi’s contribution to this project is a lovely reflection of the universality of big dreams and humble hopes, the irrepressible expression of individual identity, and most importantly, a deeply personal representation of the Iranian public in all its glorious diversity.