In The Garden of Tulips ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival 2023

In The Garden of Tulips ★★★★ HollyShorts Film Festival 2023

Julia Elihu’s affecting In The Garden of Tulips is a drama that takes hold of you and never lets go. A beautiful but aching film that shows the risks people will take for a loved one to be safe.

At the height of the Iran-Iraq War, Caroline takes a final car ride with her father through the Iranian countryside.

To begin with, In The Garden of Tulips, you are still determining the intentions or the goal of this car ride with Shaff (Iman Nazemzadeh) and his daughter Caroline (Ava Lalezarzadeh). There is a palpable tension and sadness shrouding them. As Shaff buys some fruit, Caroline breaks down for a second but manages to pull herself together. Whatever their goal is, it is not a short-term positive one. Caroline remains distant, and only when Shaff tries to alleviate the tension do we see the true dynamic between the two. There is a playfulness between father and daughter that immediately has you fall for them. Especially as they get increasingly into their song, that moment of joy does not last long.

Ava Lalezarzadeh’s script knows exactly when to hammer in the tension to an almost excruciating effect in the pullover scene. As we are not sure what is going on at the beginning, your mind runs through the options. It is only during that scene that everything starts to fall into place, and your heart sinks for the duo. They have a story that they keep to, but their suspicious body language may not betray themselves to the officer, but they do to the audience. She has found that skill in her script and thanks to Elithu’s direction to have us almost place ourselves in the position of this family. That this is a situation that could happen to anyone at anytime. We get to see the pain, the fears of what goes on in trying to free a family member, to give them their deserved chance somewhere else.

Sometimes, In The Garden of Tulips, it is just the expressions of both Nazemzadeh and Lalezarzadeh that cause the emotional damage, the looks to one another, and the gripping of their hands when driving. You are truly not prepared for how powerful simple moments are here in Julia Elithu’s film. There is a sensitivity to each performance that grips you. Lalezarzadeh seems to keep her Caroline as stoic as possible due to the fear that if she breaks down entirely in front of people, she will bring unwanted attention her way.

The last moment of Shaff in his car wrecks you, for he has done the only thing he can as a father, yet also the worst thing he can do as a father. He is protecting his daughter but won’t be there to ensure she stays safe. For Caroline, there is pain but determination; her father has done what he can for her, and she must ensure she succeeds. Their story is one of countless during that time in the region, which makes it all the more tragic that it was so necessary.

In The Garden of Tulips is an exceptional short that emotionally plays with you to great effect. Overflowing with tension and fear, it becomes a film of hope. With two phenomenally moving performances from Iman Nazemzadeh and Ava Lalezarzadeh, you would be doing a disservice to yourself not to watch it.


The 19th HollyShorts Film Festival is running between 10th – 20th August with in person and digital screenings available through the 10th to 27th August.

For more information go to

Coverage of HollyShorts Film Festival 2023:


Isla Soledad

In Too Deep


7 Minutes

The After

Swipe NYC

Shadow Brother Sunday

Zita Sempri



Hey Alexa

American Sikh

Spring Roll Dream

Welcome to 8th Street



Random Check




Support Us

I am but a small website in this big wide world. As much as I would love to make this website a big and wonderful entity. That would bring in more costs. So, for now all I hope is to make Upcoming On Screen self-sufficient. Well enough to where any website fees are less of a worry for me in the future. You can support the website below…


You can support us in a variety of ways (other than that wonderful word of mouth) and those lovely follows. If you are so inclined to help out then you can support us via Patreon, find our link here! We don’t want to ask much from you, so for now we have limited our tiers to £1.50 and £3.50. These will of course grow the more we plan to do here at Upcoming On Screen.

Buy Us A Coffee

Our other method if through the wonderful Buy us a Coffee feature, but seeing as we are not the biggest fans of coffee, a pizza will do! We keep it fairly small change on that as well and it allows you to give just a one off payment, so no need to worry about that monthly malarky! We even have a little icon on the website for you to find it and help us out with the running of the website.

Social Media

You can also support us via Twitter and Facebook by giving us a follow and a like. Every one helps!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: