1 2
Special Screenings
Traveling Festival


Letters to the President

Letters to the President
72' (Canada, Iran)

Director/Producer: Petr Lom


This is an observational verité film about President Ahmadinejad’s regime in Iran. Allowed to travel on several of the president’s populist trips to the countryside, the filmmaker (the only foreigner given such access) shows Ahmadinejad to be different than he is portrayed by the international media: He is far less a fiery dangerous leader than he is an ordinary but charismatic politician. During his trips, the president receives many letters—the government claims ten million—from poor Iranians asking for help. The film uses these letters to the president as its narrative thread, and as a device to provide a glimpse into an Iran that is usually not open to outsiders. While not finding evidence for the government’s claim that its charity resolves the problems of most letters, the film does show that promises almost always kindle the desperate hope of the poor—a hope that finds different outlets, particularly for the religious poor, who turn to belief in a Shia messiah, the Mahdi, who will come at the end of time to bring the world justice. At the holy Mosque where the Mahdi will one day reappear, the poor write their letters and put them in a wishing well, hoping their prayers might be answered. What image does the film give of President Ahmadinejad and contemporary Iran? That will depend on the eye of the beholder. The film tries to avoid facile judgment, treating its subjects with respect, and allowing all its characters to express the truth.


Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia Petr Lom grew up in Canada. He received his PhD in political theory from Harvard University in 1997 and was an academic for seven years until he left his university career to become an independent documentary filmmaker. To anyone considering a career change, he says: Do it as soon as possible. Follow your dreams. Entirely self taught, he now produces, directs and edits his own films. Both his first two documentaries, Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan and On a Tightrope (Sundance 2007), have been broadcast in more than twenty countries. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

Contact Information:

32 Antinoros Street
Athens, 11364 Greece
E-mail: office@filmstransit.com
Web site: www.letterstothepresidentmovie.com

©2009 United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF)
Select a film

The Age of Stupid
American Outrage
Azerbaijan: The Last Kankan of Nakhchivan
Battle for the Xingu
Black Wave: The Legacy Of The Exxon Valdez
Burma VJ
Cheat Neutral
China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
City of Borders
Crips and Bloods: Made in America
The Dhamma Brothers
Disco and Atomic War
A Film From My Parish - 6 Farms
Garbage Dreams
The Garden
Gold Rush (The Neharawalas)
Grandmother to Grandmother: New York to Tanzania
Houston We Have a Problem
Killer's Paradise
Knock on Wood
Letters to the President
Milking The Rhino
Mugabe and the White African
Mustang - Journey of Transformation
My Neighbor, My Killer
Naming Pluto
No Good Reason
No Strings
Once Upon a Tide
The Power of the Powerless
Power Paths
Prom Night in Mississippi
The Reckoning: The Battle for the International Criminal Court
Reclaiming Their Voices: The Native American Vote in New Mexico
The Road to Fallujah
The Sari Soldiers
Seed Hunter
Sin by Silence
Soldiers of Peace
Speaking in Tongues
The Strangest Dream
Sweet Crude
Tapestries of Hope
Welcome to North Korea!
What's On Your Plate?
The Yes Men Fix the World