Time | February 4, 2010
Shervin Malekzadeh

Back before protests erupted last June, if you were to see a crowd gathered on the streets in Tehran, odds were that people were buying up the latest U.S. hit movie or television show from a black-market vendor. Customers flip through piles of plastic sleeves, looking for an unseen classic or the latest that the Americans have to offer: Avatar, District 9, Invictus, the second Night at the Museum, the first Godfather. One can find Desperate Housewives and 24. At about one toman each (approximately $1), the DVDs are affordable as an occasional indulgence for most residents of the capital (even if a copy of Reservoir Dogs turns out to be Hancock or The Blind Side recorded by a handheld camera in a movie theater). Those residents, however, are willing to shell out the hefty sum of 30 to 50 toman for the hottest bootleg in Iran: Lost.

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