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Voices of Bam

North American Premiere

Netherlands | 89 MINUTES | Farsi |


As much as the sight of disasters repels us, we often find it difficult to avert our eyes. But it is hard not to be frustrated and a little nauseated by the standard reporting method of sticking cameras and microphones into the faces of bruised and dazed survivors while repeating the pointless question: "How did it feel?" Voices of Bam offers a completely different portrayal of disaster-one far more sensitive than mere reportage-as it accords its subjects enormous dignity while giving them an opportunity to express themselves with a rare, simple eloquence. The powerful earthquake that struck the ancient city of Bam in southeastern Iran on December 26, 2003, killed over 43,000 people, injured 20,000, and left 60,000 inhabitants homeless. Much of the city, including a 2,000-year-old mud-brick citadel that was universally revered as one of the world's architectural heritage sites, was completely leveled. Inspired by snapshots uncovered in the rubble-which are the only remaining tangible reminders of life before the quake-the filmmakers almost seem to be overhearing the city's inhabitants, who try to go on with their lives one year later. The film thus speaks volumes about the relationship between men and women in Iran, and about their relationship to God. The grief and guilt expressed by the survivors strike a universal chord, and the indomitable life force they embody is unforgettable.


Directed by Maasja Ooms and Aliona van der Horst

Aliona van der Horst was born in Moscow but grew up in the Netherlands. After she graduated cum laude from the University of Amsterdam in Russian Language and Literature in 1993, she studied documentary filmmaking at the Dutch Film and Television Academy. Her graduation film The Lady with the White Hat (1997) received several national and international awards. Van der Horst has made documentaries for Dutch public broadcasters, including Chained (1997); The Little Red Box (1998); After the Spring of '68 (2001), a Dutch Academy Award winner for Best Documentary; Hermitaz-niks (2003), a Dutch Academy Award winner for Best Cultural Program; and Relieved (2004).

Born in 1968, Maasja Ooms studied Photography at the Dutch Academy of Arts and the Dutch Film and Television Academy. She has worked with van der Horst since The Lady with the White Hat. Ooms was the cinematographer for many documentaries, and in 2003 she started codirecting documentaries.