Hekmat, Manijeh. 2002.
Iran. 106 min.
Famously “banned” for more than a year by Iranian authorities, this taboo-breaking film is based on Manijeh Hekmat’s long fieldwork among women prisoners in Iran. She depicts the lives of Iran’s lost generation in the two decades since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, using the claustrophobic life of women behind bars as a metaphor for the entire society. Her protagonist, Mitra, is in prison for killing her violent stepfather. On the eve of a prison riot she confronts Tahereh, the new warden, whose dogmatic views she challenges fearlessly. Over the course of the next 20 years, Tahereh’s attitude toward her prisoners changes and softens, which reflects the country’s shifting political stance. Eventually, Mitra, aged and exhausted, is finally released, but Tahereh left behind, is now more like a prisoner herself.
Romeu, Patricia A. 2003. Women’s Prison: Study Guide. The Global Film Initiative.