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Women’s Cinema from Tangiers to Tehran

Wednesday, April 22, 2009
6:30 p.m. The Day I Became a Woman
Marziyeh Meshkini (Iran, 2000)

With this disturbing portrayal of the role of women in Iran, director Marziyeh Meshkini (made her entry into) Iranian cinema. The script, written by Meshkini’s husband, the consummate filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, tells several stories. The first, referring to the film’s title, is about Hava, who on the morning of her ninth birthday is told that she is now a woman. She must wear a chador and may no longer associate with her male playmates. In the most remarkable episode, Ahoo, a young wife, is competing in a bicycle race against dozens of other chador-clad women on a hot dusty road. As she pulls ahead of the field, her husband pursues her on horseback to take her out of the race, and no film chase has ever been more heart-wrenching. With compassion, Meshkini examines a society where women are still the property of men and cannot achieve independence without forgoing emotional attachments.

—New Directors/New Films, Film Society of Lincoln Center, 2001

• Written by Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Photographed by Ebrahim Ghafouri, Mohammad Ahmadi. With Fatemeh Cheragh Akhar, Shabnam Toloui, Azizeh Sedighi. (78 mins, In Farsi with English subtitles, Color, 35mm, From New Yorker Films)