"The seven things I know about Iranian oil" that opens Miranda Pennell’s film cut a sharp swathe through our knowledge of British colonial history in Iran. The Host is much more than this, however. It's a film that benefits from Pennell’s deep immersion in British Petroleum’s archives, where ancient geologies are mapped out amongst stunning photographs of mid-twentieth-century oil fields.
What these images leave out tells just as much as what they endeavour to represent. Family histories, Polaroids, table settings and science fiction begin bubbling to the surface as Pennell looks over the shoulders of her mother and father as they try to make sense of their own experiences in pre-revolutionary Iran.
The Host becomes ever more sticky a tale, animating a twentieth-century colonial encounter which resonates through to the present day.