Empty Nets


Amir loves Narges and Narges loves Amir. But their hopes and dreams for a life together collide head on with the web of tradition, corruption, and social hierarchy that continues to rule over the lives of a new generation in Iran.

"...a powerful debut with his story of a young Iranian diver…"
"There is no question about the quality of film-making throughout. Persuasively acted by the two very charismatic leads, and atmospherically photographed by Ashkan Ashkani the picture introduces German-Iranian director Behrooz Karamizade as a talent of real promise."

"… Lean, engrossing…"
"As a portrait of entrenched inequality and diminished opportunities in contemporary Iran, this simple, solemn tale could hardly be more damning..."

"Impressive Feature Debut Is a Gritty Iranian Gut Punch…"
"Lead actor Abbasi powerfully conveys Amir’s gradual transformation…"

"Abbasi is particularly good in this respect, a modest but charismatic leading man, in the style of Gael García Bernal, who engages us even as he fails ever further downwards."

"A layered screenplay, pristine cinematography and strong performances across the board make this a gripping, emblematic story of hardship and the overwhelming force of social power structures..."
"Reza Abbasi has just the right boyish appeal to play the naïf and is suitably charismatic in his early scenes with Asgari, with whom he shares great chemistry."


Twenty somethings Amir and Narges have found what feels like true love in their hometown by the coast of the Caspian sea. But in today’s Iran that’s far from enough to build a life together, and they are forced to keep the relationship secret. To win over Narges’ upper class family and pay an appropriate dowry, Amir needs money, and he needs it fast. With his back against the wall, Amir finds work at a local fishery, where he is drawn into the dangerous but lucrative business of black market caviar smuggling. As Amir’s values are compromised by the illegal underworld, Narges stalls for time and tries to delay the arranged marriage her parents are planning for her. Can their love, hopes and dreams survive the tightly knit web of tradition, corruption, and social hierarchy that continues to rule over the lives of a new generation in Iran?

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Film presentation
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Director: Behrooz Karamizade
Genre: Drama
Original title: Toorhaye khali / Leere Netze
English title: Empty Nets
Country of production: Germany, Iran
Year of production: 2023
Length: 101
Color: Color
Shooting format: 3,2K Anamorph
Screening format: 2k CinemaScope
Original language: Farsi
Subtitles: English, German
Cast: Hamid Reza Abbasi, Sadaf Asgari, Keyvan Mohamadi, Pantea Panahiha

Scriptwriter: Behrooz Karamizade
Director of photography: Ashkan Ashkani
Production designer: Sharam Karimi
Editor: Anne Jünemann
Sound design: Sebastian Tesch
Sound mixing: Bahman Ardalan
Music: John Gürtler & Jan Misere featuring Saba Alizadeh
Producers: Eva Kemme, Ansgar Frerich, Uschi Feldges
Co-producers: Jörn Möllenkamp, Majid Barzegar
Production company: BASIS BERLIN Filmproduktion
Co-production company: Living Pictures Production, Rainy Pictures, ZDF / Kleines Fernsehspiel, ARTE
Supported by: Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media Hessen Film & Medien Kuratorium junger deutscher Film German Federal Film Fund (DFFF)

Film poster

Festivals / Awards

Karlovy Vary IFF, Czech Republic - Crystal Globe Competition - Special Jury Prize
Filmfest Münich, Germany - Best Production Award
Fünf Seen Film Festival, Germany - Horizonte Filmpreis
Filmfestival Münster, Germany
International Human Rights Film Festival Nürnberg, Germany
Zurich Film Festival, Switzerland - Focus Competition
Visions of Iran Köln, Germany
Adelaide Film Festival, Australia - Feature Fiction Award
Pingyao International Film Festival, China - Crouching Tiger Competition - Roberto Rossellini Awards Special Mention
International Film Festival Kinenova, North Macedonia -  International Competition
B3 Biennale, Germany
Hessischer Film und Kinopreis, Germany - Newcomer Prize (Behrooz Karamizade)
Biberacher Filmfestspiele, Germany - Competition
Ahrenshooper Filmnächte, Germany - Best Film, Audience Award
Exground Wiesbaden, Germany
Kinofest Lünen, Germany - Competition - Special Mention for Performance (Hamid Reza Abbasi, Sadaf Asgari)
Bosphorus Film Festival, Turkey - Best Actor Prize (Hamid Reza Abbasi)
Chennai International Film Festival, India
Iranian Film Festival Australia, Australia
El Gouna Film Festival, Egypt
Iranian Film Festival New York, USA - Best Film
Festival of Films from Iran (Chicago), USA
Bengaluru International Film Festival, India
San Francisco International Film Festival, USA - Global Visions Honorable Mention
Shanghai International Film Festival, China


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