Best in the West

When a group of young men left Iran in the 1960s and seventies to study abroad, they believed it was only temporary. Maryam Kashani, a graduate of UC Berkeley's Film Studies program, catches up with them forty years later, living in San Francisco. “The guys” include her father and uncle. Their story is reflected in the local urban landscape, as revealed in photos of the restaurants, nightclubs, and gas stations they owned. But just as relevant to their lives are the changing relations between Iran and the United States, as the price of oil rose and the Shah fell. Kashani deftly negotiates these two scales, personal and international, interweaving industrial and archival footage with intimate interviews and family portraits. The guys tell their personal stories with warmth and humor, finding their way through the counterculture, two gas crises, bankruptcy, and marriage, but always against the backdrop of an enduring friendship marked by laughter and songs, and a gamble or two.

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