First Impressions of Iran (anti-American?)

Feb 11, 2019 1.9M Views 8.6K Comments

Watch if you’re curious about Iran and want to see a different view away from mainstream news and politics. EPISODE 1 of 3.

Everyone around me said,
“Don’t go to Iran.”
If you go to the US website it will say
Danger: Do not go.
All these warning out there.
Americans can’t just get up and go to Iran.
You need to be on a
government minded tour.
But Italians are free to come
here and travel wherever.
I’m an American citizen but I
have an Italian passport also.
I am here as an Italian.
There’s this groupthink that goes on.
You see what’s on TV and you
can’t help but hold some of that
in your head.
The reason I’m here:
To get this human story.
What gets heard on
the outside is the politics
but what does not get heard
is the voice from the people
We know what’s typically shown about Iran.
Going in, it’s time.
No longer than two minutes in
Iran and Kate has reached out.
-Hello everybody.
I would like you visit my home town.
-I hope you will like it.
Great beautiful scenic shots of Tehran
and met very interesting people.
It was awesome.
Sweet, let’s go.
Hanging out in the mall
I found these very animated,
interesting young ladies.
On the third day my camera was stolen
[Ominous music]
Motorcycle thief got me.
He came out of nowhere.
It was insane.
The guy was so good.
So professional.
This hand went through
and it was just like, “Woosh.”
He was on the throttle,
had to release his hand
grabbed my phone [clap]
put it in the other hand
[motorcycle noise]
I ran as fast as I could.
He was dodging pedestrians.
It was like a Hollywood movie for a bit
and it almost had that
Hollywood ending because
I was gaining on him.
He got out to try and get
into traffic but he couldn’t.
The traffic is intense here.
So he couldn’t just go onto the road
and so he was trying to maneuver his
way and I was gaining, gaining, gaining.
I was definitely gonna go for
his arm and try to bang it out
and right when I was about to reach him
he found a hole and was off.
I had a steady cam in my hand.
I was gonna throw it and then
The receptionist here,
this young woman, Mona.
She made up a paper ad
and we’re on the hunt right now.
This is like a wanted ad.
We’re gonna find this thing.
She’s like, “That’s probably
the best way to get the phone.”
because there’s a whole black
market with the phones here.
So someone will steal a phone,
they’ll sell it to someone else.
they might part it out
and if we put these flyers
downtown all over the place
then someone might come through.
Mona just got off work.
Let me see this, this flyer.
-Yeah, we do have this announcement.
Peter, whatcha doing?
Someone’s gonna get work for $500.
This is our night tonight, posting these.
If this thing shows up
then it’s a great story.
[music continues]
[man speaking Persian]
[music continues]
I don’t know what I’m gonna do now.
I’m sort of waiting for
this ghost call tomorrow.
Someone wanting the reward of $500.
It’s my fourth day here
but I have zero video
and no camera.
Woke up in the morning
phone’s gone, camera’s gone.
It’s like, man, what am I gonna do?
Am I gonna give up on showing
the cool human element of this place?
So no, I wasn’t.
You can only spend the
money you come in with because
international banking doesn’t work here.
All these Iranians coming
through via Instagram.
Asking if they can help.
And then I thought of
my friend Alex in Kiev
because I live in Kiev, Ukraine.
Four hour flight away.
Wrote to Alex.
“Alex, you want to come to Iran?”
He’s like, “Yeah, I’d like
to come there sometime.”
How about tonight, actually?
‘Cause there’s a flight going from Kiev.
I think he thought about it
for maybe 10, 20 minutes
and then he was in motion.
Hey Peter, doing some exercise.
Let’s get these tickets bought.
Cool, he’s got them.
It’s on.
He’s got the tickets.
Now we gotta get the phone.
I’m on my way.
Went to my girlfriend’s work.
Went to my apartment.
Got the money, got the phone.
♪ middle eastern ♪
Leaving for Tehran.
[music continues]
Two hours of waiting is quite some time.
Do you think that’s
normal though, honestly?
The screen has changed.
-Gone, look at that.
It’s all gone.
The baggage, no longer.
-Maybe three.
-Three hours?
[airport loudspeaker]
He was on the flight, I know he was on it.
Guy in the red shirt.
[high five]
Good to see you.
Ooh, where is it at?
Episodes continue.
-Feeling excited.
And so it was back on.
Wasn’t a failed mission.
I could start over, so that’s what I did.
I started over.
I’m in Iran and I need
a VPN to use Apple.
-But the VPN is not working.
-Because you’re not signed
in, that won’t work either.
It’s supposed to go on its own.
Once you see the screen.
-It’ll be like 48 hours here.
So I couldn’t get the VPN…
Whatever, long-ass story.
It’s been a grind.
With that said, the harder it gets
the more I want it.
We go North.
Look at that, look at those mountains
coming right out of the city.
How cool is that?
♪ middle eastern ♪
Off to the mountains
near the Caspian sea.
[music continues]
I don’t know, we might
stay at someone’s house.
No hotel situation or
anything lined up here.
Mr. Shumaker.
-Hello, how are you?
You have to get gray to get the green.
[music continues]
What are you thinking so far of this place?
Looks a little dark and dingy.
We’re in trouble.
Random, random…
Up this mountain
dirt roads through the mud.
We’re sleeping together, Alex.
Is that what he’s saying?
243,000 toman.
It’s like $18 or something, right?
Okay, fair enough.
Do you have an extra mattress
because I’m here with my friend
And he’s a guy.
I don’t want to sleep with him.
Do I need to reserve tickets?
-So what is the next
destination for you, my friend?
Caspian sea, but there’s this
road along the way that I heard
is like a jungle.
So my style is just let the
story develop as it goes along.
and who I’m gonna meet
and run into becomes the story.
The circumstances and the
situations I get in to becomes the story.
By doing so, it’s completely authentic.
I can’t plan this stuff out.
This is the site of the great…
And this is the love of human rights.
-The love of human rights?
-In his hands, yes.
27 months to make this?
Only you?
-Only me, yes.
The power of the Iranian nation.
Quite a fantastically interesting
character here out here
in the middle of nowhere
in the mountains of Iran.
He seemed like this guy that
could sleep on the ground and
eat mushrooms and lamb
for the next five years
and just create art.
So went North…
♪ middle eastern house music ♪
Not the Iran
that usually comes to mind
but this region, North
of Tehran.
It’s totally desert
then you go over the mountains
you get this.
[music continues]
We’re splitting paths.
See you in Tehran.
On November 5th.
[music continues]
♪ mellow music ♪
Was this artistic
sort of mystical guy.
Has a coffee shop there
wanted to show me around.
So that’s how it is in Iran.
You run into someone and
all of a sudden they’re saying,
“Hey, come with me and my friends.
I want to show you a castle
overlooking the Caspian sea.”
One of those just let the day
take you where it wants to take you.
It’s taken me here, on top of a castle.
It’s just in the culture to hang out.
We had really no agenda.
Check this out, audience.
The Iranians absolutely love Instagram.
Is that right or is it anything else?
-Yeah I think it’s right for more than 99%.
I think that’s the only way we can
connect to the world.
-And share their art.
-The internet, especially Instagram.
I was even told it’s
like the Tinder of Iran.
So everything gets done through Instagram.
Goosebumps, that’s how
much it gets me excited.
Because it’s green, it’s lush.
In those clouds
are snow-capped mountains
and then behind me
there is this beauty of the Caspian.
I look at this culture
as very well connected.
The people really tribe together well.
From everyone I’ve met, they
seem to have good friend networks.
One of the very cool things about Iran
is you’re never really alone.
-I love you, Peter.
For you.
♪ mellow music ♪
World really opens up when you just
go without a plan.
Then you end up in a place like this.
[music continues]
[music continues]
Ugh, I don’t want to leave.
I gotta get on a plane in like two hours.
Which I’m not complaining.
Going to Isfahan.
Isfahan is a completely
different world from this.
I know that it’s different.
Almost a different culture I think
and definitely a different landscape.

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