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New Zealand International Film Festival

July to November NZ wide | TVNZ

Women Without Men: Film Festival

Women without Men

Zanan bedoone mardan, Germany/Austria/France 2009, 105m
Director: Shirin Neshat
Festivals: Venice, Toronto, London 2009; Rotterdam 2010
Best Director, Venice Film Festival 2009

"Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat is well-known for her photographs and moving image work depicting Islamic culture in poetic, stylised form. Since 2005 she has been working on the project Women without Men, exhibiting some parts of it as gallery installations, and now presenting it as a feature film. It is an interpretation of Shahrunsh Parsipar's novel of the same name, banned in Iran since its publication in 1989, which combines Neshat's skill in creating mood and tone with the magical-realist elements of the original writing. In parallel sequences, she portrays the lives of four women in 1953, the year when Iran's elected Prime Minister was removed in a coup d'etat backed by Britain and the US, in order to re-instate the Shah and avoid nationalising the country's oil resources.

During this time of struggle for democracy and independence, the women's own search for freedom or survival in a culture with strict rules about religion and sexual and social behaviour leads each of them to a beautiful ephemeral garden, a place of safety and refuge. Filmed in haunting muted hues, the women's individual journeys are compelling, and the broader themes of the tensions between religion and secularism and between tradition and modernity have never felt more relevant." - Sandra Hebron, London Film Festival

In Farsi with English subtitles