Robert Adanto’s Pearls on the Ocean Floor, a thought-provoking, feature-length documentary lifts the veil on Iranian female artists, by examining the lives and works of leading visual artists living and working in and outside the Islamic Republic. This unflinching and incisive study, featuring interviews with art luminaries Shadi Ghadirian, Shirin Neshat, Parastou Forouhar and others, captures the uncertainty of this momentous time in Iran’s history. Speaking with grace and honesty, these brave women express what is seldom seen in the western media:unique individual perspectives regarding issues of identity, gender, and the the role Art plays in challenging the traditional stereotypes often associated with women in Iran. Pearls on the Ocean Floor features a captivating original soundtrack by Nalepa, the composer who also scored Adanto’s debut film The Rising Tide, which examined the explosive contemporary art scene in a changing China.
As film critic Jennie Kermode writes in Eye For Film, “With so much impressive art to draw on, this film is a visual treat, but what really elevates it as a documentary is the strength of the interviews - strong voices with sometimes clashing agendas, each offering a unique perspective on a country “which seems to have a revolution every 30 years.” Iran is in flux and none of the women speaking here is sure what the outcome will be, though many are hopeful. It’s often said that suffering makes a great artist, and this film suggests that the suffering of a nation can have a similar effect.”