Voices of Bam

After the earthquake of December 2003, the city of Bam in Iran consisted only of ruins. Tens of thousands of people were buried under the rubble and died. But not only the city was shattered, also the hearts of the people. Almost everyone in the city – famous for its medieval citadel featured in Valerio Zurlini's The Desert of the Tartars (1976) – had lost someone. And now even the castle was no longer there. Iranian photographer Parissa Damandan was the first to excavate the archives of destroyed photo studios. The files provide a picture of daily life in Bam before the earthquake, and through the Bam Photography Rescue Project, many relatives received photos of their deceased loved ones back. In Voices of Bam, the camera floats through the city like a ghost, the photos appear between everyday scenes: families, mothers and children, cooking, cleaning, tending the graves, the wedding of a man and a woman who can finally get married. The survivors share their memories with the spectators in whispering tones. Aliona van der Horst had long wanted to make a film in which a choir of voices tells the story. While on a research trip in Bam, she met a hairdresser who had lost his wife and two daughters and spoke to their photo on the wall every day. She asked him to do this for the film as well, and so the idea of recording multiple testimonies was born. Furthermore, documentary makers Aliona van der Horst and Maasja Ooms created a restrained visual language full of contemplative space. Only in the montage and the almost symphonic collage of spoken memories they give meaning to a story that is as much about what is lost as it offers an insight into the relationships between parents and children, men and women and their god in a city that seems abandoned by all. (Dana Linssen)

Director's Filmography (Selection)
Gerlach (2023, doc; CE24) - Turn Your Body to the Sun (2021, doc; CE24) - Liefde is Aardappelen (Love Is Potatoes, 2017, doc; CE18 & 24) - 15 Attempts (2013, doc) - Don’t Shoot The Messenger (2013, doc) - Water Children (2011, doc; CE24) - Boris Ryzhy (2008, doc; CE10 & 24) - Voices Of Bam (2006, doc, co-directed with Maasja Ooms; CE24) - A Passion For The Hermitage (doc series, 2006) - Na de lente van ’68 (After The Spring Of ’68, 2001, mid-length doc) - De dame met het witte hoedje (The Lady with the White Hat, 1997, mid-length doc)
Tribute 2024
Aliona van der Horst, Maasja Ooms
Netherlands 2006
90 minutes
OV with English subtitles

Screenings / Tickets

Film guest(s) present: Aliona van der Horst (Director)

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Screenplay Aliona van der Horst
Cinematography Maasja Ooms
Editing Stefan Kamp
Sound/Sounddesign Rik Meier, Jeroen Goeijers
Producer(s) Frank van den Engel
Zeppers Film & TV
Austrian Premiere
World Premiere
International Film Festival Rotterdam 2006