In President Mir Qanbar we are treated to the unlikely presidential campaign of a 75-year-old retired civil servant hailing from a remote province of Iran. Although he has been disqualified for lack of votes on his two previous attempts to capture the presidency, he remains optimistic. As this latter-day Don Quixote rides a donkey cart through the countryside or pedals a ramshackle bike flying a big red flag, he is accompanied by the limping Seifollah, his disabled assistant and Sancho Panza, who's in line to become Minister of Health when Mir Qanbar gets elected. They tirelessly campaign in the countryside, distributing leaflets to farmers and shepherds and declaiming policy through a megaphone. Back home, Mir Qanbar explains his agenda to the film crew, while his wife silently makes tea in the background. This at once tender and humorous documentary is directed by Mohammad Shirvani, whose daring short films and first feature Navel announced a powerful new voice on the Iranian scene. Though the film's tone is gentle enough, it hints at an undercurrent of restlessness among ordinary people who long to have a voice in how their country is run. In the film's subject we find the childlike ingenuousness of the Iranian Mr. Deeds following his impossible dream. When asked at the Locarno film festival why he waged such a useless campaign, Mir Qanbar replied, "It's better to do useless things than to do nothing." The film won the Award of Excellence at the Yamagata documentary festival in Japan.
Mohammad Shirvani was born in Tehran six years before the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Raised under the strict discipline of his military father, he was enrolled into military school by his father so he wouldn't be killed in the front lines during the Iraq-Iran war. Later he attended college and majored in Painting. In 2003, after having completed six short films, Shirvani directed his first feature, Navel, which had its North American premiere at TFF 2004.