Iranian artist denounces lack of freedom in film

Wed Sep 9, 2009 10:50am EDT
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By Silvia Aloisi

VENICE (Reuters) - Iranian video artist Shirin Neshat has made her first feature film about women's lack of freedom and growing political involvement in 1953 Iran, but she said the story had strong parallels with the situation today.

"Women Without Men" chronicles the intertwining lives of four women from different walks of life at the time of the U.S. and British-backed coup which deposed a democratically elected prime minister and reinstated the Shah to power.

Against the backdrop of political turmoil in the streets of Tehran, the film follows each woman's struggle for freedom -- be it from a loveless marriage, seclusion imposed by a religiously conservative family, or prostitution.

Neshat, whose film is in competition at the Venice film festival, said that the battles for democracy and women's rights in Iran went hand-in-hand, and were central to street protests which followed a presidential vote in June.

"The images of the uprisings in the summer of 1953 have so much resemblance to what is going on this summer in Iran, and I think symbolically this film represents the Iranian struggle over time for democracy and freedom," she told reporters.

"People have changed, the dictators have changed in form and shape and ideology but the struggle continues."


Only one of the four women in the film, Munis, is interested in what is going on in the streets of the capital where people are marching against the coup. But her wings are clipped by her conservative brother, who wants her to marry and stay at home.   Continued...

<p>Director Shirin Neshat attends the "Zanan Bedoone Mardan" (Women Without Men) photocall at the Palazzo del Casino during the 66th Venice Film Festival September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi</p>