Best in the West
Best in the West began as an oral history of my family’s emigration to the United States, yet it quickly evolved into a greater examination of a transitional period in history, as well as a portrait of a forty-year friendship of a group of men and the city that they would eventually consider home.
My father, my uncle, and many of their friends left Iran throughout the mid-1960s and the early 1970s to seek education, adventure, and opportunity abroad. Eventually arriving in San Francisco, they engaged the counterculture with curiosity, charm, and charisma. The film locates their experiences, as young men establishing their lives in a new country, within a geographically specific and historical context, which considers the Vietnam War, changes in Iran, and the social, political, and musical atmosphere of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s. The parallel history of the Iranian oil industry and its relationship to American oil companies and the growth in American consumption provides a surprising and poignant counterpoint.
Best in the West was originally shot on 16mm film, Super 8, and miniDV. Archival footage, photographs, and a soundtrack of Iranian and American R&B and funk music complete the intricate tapestry that creates the sense of this particular time and place, as well as alludes to the passage of time in these geographic and emotional landscapes. As a portrait of human relationships and a particular historical moment, the film investigates the reasons why people leave their home country, how they choose their point of destination, and how they negotiate cultural differences while trying to establish themselves economically and socially. Most significantly this is the story of a group of male friends, both an examination of their personal choices and achievements and a celebration of their relationships and efforts to maintain a community.