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ArtsEtc: Answer The Questions - Marziyeh Meshkini: `I had to try

Independent, The (London),  Jan 20, 2002  

Born in Tehran in 1969, film director Marziyeh Meshkini trained with father and daughter team Mohsen and Samira Makhmalbaf before completing her debut feature, `The Day I Became a Woman' about three generations of Iranian women.

How difficult is it to make films in Iran as a woman?

Men - and even women - tend to have less faith in women. They believe film-making should be reserved only for half of humanity - that is, men. In Iran there are now 500 men film-makers and only 10 women directors. Thus women face certain problems as film directors - just as we have never had a woman president in the country. During the shooting, I had to prove my abilities twice as much as a man does before my authority was accepted by the cast and crew.

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Why is Iranian cinema so successful?

I think it is mainly because Iranian art cinema is different from current world cinema which is dominated by Hollywood productions or films merely imitating them.

How did you become interested in film-making?

I love film-making. There are many women in Iran who would be interested in making films if they were given the chance. I was one of the lucky few who was offered the opportunity. I had practical training at Makhmalbaf Film School for four years.

Why is your film focused on women?

As a woman, I am naturally more affected by problems that face women. Also, I believe we should help gain equal rights for women through cultural activities.


Are Iranian girls really confined to the home from the age of nine, as depicted in your film?

In traditional communities they [are], but not in the cities. Legally, girls are considered adults after the age of nine, and they are treated as adults in court if they are guilty of any offence. Whereas with boys it is quite different.

Do the scarves and barrels in the film symbolise anything?

Iran is an oil producing country, and especially in the southern parts where most of the underground oil reserves are, oil barrels can be found everywhere. Usually the barrels end up as toys for children, and the types of games children play with barrels represent a variety of symbols. In my film they represent Iran's riches, while the scarf is a symbol of Iranian women. If they are both used correctly we will experience a release.

`The Day I Became a Woman' (U) is on limited release now

Copyright 2002 Independent Newspapers UK Limited
Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.