Bilingual and bicultural, Hamid Naficy is the main character in this documentary on the mixed blessings of the state of exile that he has likened to an elevator that runs between “two cultural poles, two memories, two lives.” He’s a member of the Iranian generation that lived through the modernization of the country that preceded the Islamic Revolution of 1979, and the Islamization that followed it. Like many Iranians who were studying in US universities when the revolution began, he chose not to return to Iran. He has succeeded both personally and professionally in his adopted country; yet, he has also managed to retain his linguistic and cultural links and succeeded in conducting penetrating analyses of both the rich cultural heritage of his original homeland—his roots—and of the fecund terrain of exile in his adopted land—his routes.
At 61 minutes, this film packs a powerful punch elucidating the complexities of personal identity in a rapidly globalized world, where individual, national, and transnational forces rub against each other. As such, it is a very timely film that sheds light on the dynamics of our contemporary times, beset by globalization and consolidation of capital and media, on the one hand, and by fragmentation and disruptions of nation states, on the other.