Forever Under Construction

Iranian Cinema

Posted in Iran by homeyra on November 23, 2006


Naj I hope you won’t mind this post!

[… under the iron rule of the mullahs, an Iranian woman receives the Nobel peace prize; two Iranian females become the first Muslim women to conquer Everest; a woman becomes the national car-racing champion amongst both men and women challengers in Iran; women occupy over 60% of the capacity of higher education centers; the feminist non-governmental organizations grow by over 400%; the international prize for technological innovation in Geneva goes to a provincial Iranian girl; and presidential candidates herald women’s issues in the election campaign… ]

This is an extract of Naj’s introduction to her essay: Beyond Tradition and Taboo, Women of Iranian Popular Cinema: Projection of Progress

She starts with a short history of the “encounter of Iranian society with feminism“, to later on “consider the cinematic representation of women as a gauge to the success of the Iranian women’s discourse of social equality and democracy.”

Her essay consists of the overview of three decades of cinema: the Revolution era, the War Period, the Reconstruction Era and the Reform Era.

She points out the emerging “rebellion” and “mobility” and asks questions about the “Future Direction”.

[…Here, we glimpsed at the image of progress made by women of Iranian cinema: from perdition to resurrection to revolution. This progress is owed in part to the readiness of the spectators for change and in part to the artists who have taken risks and have pushed the envelope of the viewer’s imagination and expectations beyond tradition and taboo. And from beneath the ‘hijab,’ which is meant to obscure a vision of femininity, the Iranian women are painting a striking figure of their identity that flickers through the darkness of the cinema theater and perhaps into the darkness beyond.] and much more…

In “Tales of Resilience” Naj reviews two very interesting movies:

[The Iranian Journey … a documentary … the story of Ma’soomeh, the first and only long-distance female bus driver of the Middle East in the year 1999.

The Ladies Room, … episodic self- narrations by odd characters that visit the ladies room in the Laleh Park.]

[…Although different in style and in form, Iranian Journey and The Ladies Room overlap in one message: that the Iranian women seek the sources of their strength from within. … these women parallel each other in a culture of determination and stubbornness that guides them through the hassles … and perils … of the life. I want to suggest that this culture is not feminine or feminist, nor is it exclusively Iranian or Middle Eastern. Nevertheless, these films do debunk certain notions about what it means to be a woman in Iran. After all, women have made these movies and an Iranian woman is writing about them, the feminine in them cannot be ignored.] … another blogging about 🙂

Naj has been kind enough to point out her other essay: Bahram Baizai …” one of the most enigmatic figures of the contemporary Iranian cultural scene

P.S. The picture above, an old movie poster, has nothing to do with Naj’s essay!


9 Responses

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  1. homeyra said, on November 23, 2006 at 9:35 am

    I had saved this image longtime ago, I ignore the source, would be glad to add it.
    … more free publicity for someone 🙂

  2. Cyrus said, on November 23, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    I believe that all Iranians know about the situation of the women there in Iran. Yes. They have a lot of problems there especially when it comes to social activities. However, we should consider the fact that western societies are also suffering from the same problem but in other aspects. The simple truth is that the humankind has not been able to make a balance.
    Also, as a person who used to live in Japan fore a few years, I’m sure that in those societies are worse from this point of view.

  3. homeyra said, on November 23, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    Hi Cyrus, I agree with your statement, I also believe that “women’s problems” are not dissociated from “men’s problems”.
    Naj “suggests that this culture is not feminine or feminist, nor is it exclusively Iranian or Middle Eastern”

  4. Naj said, on November 23, 2006 at 4:52 pm

    Thank you Homeyra.
    While on promoting certain somebody (who somehow feels ambivalet about promotion, just because she is Iranian who hangs out with Germans and Jewish friends and thus is well trained in the art of paranoia 😉 –I will someday write something about the shared manifold of our cultural philosophies) there is a ‘feminin’ essay on Baizai somewhere too.

  5. joojeh said, on November 23, 2006 at 8:46 pm

    I see you have carefully left out the first Iranian woman in space — probably because you reckoned that it has nothing to do with Iran’s regime.
    Well, you’re WRONG!
    She wouldn’t have emmigrated to the US in the first place if it weren’t for…

  6. homeyra said, on November 23, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    Good point Joojeh! Good point! Naj should edit her essay 🙂

  7. naj said, on November 24, 2006 at 3:34 am

    Joojeh, you are right and the only reason why she’s not in the essay is “not only” because she had not gone to the space at the tme the essay was written (and as you know, published work doesn’t get edited after publication!) but also because she didn’t go to space with “Iranian Money”! She is a business woman who made her fortunes in the US of A! I only write about women who swim against the waves in Iran. And being an immigrant myself, I consider myself a joojeh as well; and my hat goes off to all the women who have stayed in Iran and who have made a difference!

  8. christine lustin said, on November 24, 2006 at 7:28 pm

    hello homeyra,
    i have to learn english to understand your blog….
    but i think it’s a very nice idea
    a very big kiss from your french friend


  9. homeyra said, on November 25, 2006 at 10:39 am

    Hello Chris:) Tu peux ecrire en Francais tu sais! Si c’est les Champions qui frequentent ce site, j’ai interet a m’y appliquer 🙂

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