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Silver Lion for Best Director / Venice Film Festival 2009 Program Note
An adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur’s magic realist novel, is Iranian artist, Shirin Neshat’s, first feature length film. The story chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953; a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history when an American led, British backed coup d’etat brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and reinstalled the Shah to power. Over the course of several days, four disparate women from Iranian society are brought together against the backdrop of political and social turmoil.
Women without Men is a directorial debut feature of Shirin Neshat, an established Iranian-American artist and Golden Lion award recipient of Venice Biennale. It is an adaptation of a novel by Shahrnush Parsipur, a famous woman writer who was exiled to the US from Iran. Shirin Neshat made 5 video installations and photograph taking a motif from woman characters in Parsipur’s novel for 5 years since 2002 and cinematized them into a lengthy feature in 2009. This film challenges the US made image of Iran. In 1953, a military coup broke out in Iran under the hidden control of the CIA. The Mossadegh administration, the most democratic government in Iranian modern politics, had to leave the office. The military and royal authorities took power. And this coup later became the reason for the Islamic Revolution in 1979. Keeping an eye on the US infiltrating Iranian history for a long time, this film talks about the lives of four women and the choices they make at the time of chaos. Middle aged woman Fakhri puts an end to her marriage and moves out to the suburbs to run a beautiful orchard. A sex worker Zarin dreams of escaping from her miserable life. Faezeh is frustrated by her husband yet tries to put herself together. Munis, who wants to get away from her Islamic Fundamentalist brother, joins the demonstration against the coup. Women without Men carries the surreal atmosphere of the Magical Realism novel and offers a fantastic visual experience. All the women except for Munis gather together in Fakhri’s orchard, which is the exile space, oasis, and comfort shelter for them to soothe each other and heal their wounds. But the coup eventually plunders the shelter. This means the choice these women make and their independence are affected by the political power after all. (CHO Hye-young)
Silver Lion for Best Director / Venice Film Festival 2009
Shirin NESHATShirin NESHAT
Shirin Neshat is an Iranian born artist and filmmaker whose work addresses the complex social and religious forces shaping the identity of Muslim women. Neshat was recognized for her portraits of women overlaid with calligraphy in the ‘Women of Allah’ series. She also directed several video installations, among them are: Rapture (1999) and Turbulent (1998) which won the International Award at the 48th Venice Biennial. Her solo museum exhibitions include shows at the Whitney Museum, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Arts, Athens; The Serpentine Gallery, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin and Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal. Women without Men is her feature directorial debut.