Best in the West is the story of a group of male friends who leave the country of their birth to seek education, opportunity, and adventure abroad. In relating the events of their emigration from Iran to the San Francisco Bay Area, the film explores the personal choices and relationships of these young men as they establish their lives and maintain a community in a new land. What began as an oral history of one family’s emigration to the West, soon expanded into a document of a transitional period in history that altered the landscape of international geopolitics and the lives of these men.
The filmmaker’s father, uncle, and many of their friends left Iran throughout the mid-1960s and the early 1970s and eventually arrived in San Francisco, where they engaged the counterculture with curiosity, charm, and charisma. The film locates their experiences within a geographically specific and historical context, which considers the Vietnam War, changes occurring in Iran, and the social, political, and musical atmosphere of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 1970s. The parallel history of the Iranian oil industry and its relationship to American oil companies and the growth in American consumption provides a surprising and poignant counterpoint.
Best in the West was originally shot on 16mm film, Super 8, and miniDV. Archival footage, photographs, and a soundtrack of Iranian and American R&B, funk, and soul music are integrated to create the sense of this particular moment and place, while alluding to the passage of time in these geographic and emotional landscapes. The film investigates the reasons why people leave their home country and what is at stake, how they choose their point of destination, and how they negotiate cultural differences while trying to establish themselves economically and socially amidst an ever-changing world.
Best in the West is available for purchase on DVD for personal, community, and academic screenings and collections.
for personal collections: $30 (includes shipping and handling)
for academic collections: $200
Contact the administrator or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The film is used in classrooms around the country; it is especially relevant to Asian American and Ethnic Studies courses, American Studies, Anthropology, Iranian Studies, immigration and diaspora, Islam in America, and courses related to California.