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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Women’s Prison (review)

When Iranian filmmaker Manijeh Hekmat dared to propose a film about the deplorable lives of women behind bars — some of them political prisoners — in postrevolutionary Iran, she was slapped down by the Iranian Society of Film Directors, which denied her the permit she needed to begin production. So she got the permit in the name of her art-director husband and made the film anyway… only to see it banned in her home country. But bootlegs found their way into the outside world, and the film made a triumphant premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2002. And here it is, in all its daring, angry glory, an instant classic of political muckracking that exposes the decay and corruption at the heart of Iranian civil society, challenging rigidly dogmatic concepts about the place of women and the meaning of dissent, and laying bare the vicious cycle of lost generations raising lost children (yes, these women raise their children, incarcerated beside them, amid the squalor of their prison). Unfolding over two decades, this story — revolving around a woman convicted of murdering her abusive stepfather and the inflexible warden she regularly defies — is a bold strike for freedom, and shockingly illuminating look at a world hidden from our eyes. The DVD also features a discussion guide, including notes on the film and a statement from the director. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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