July 28, 2011

Women without Men (Iran 2009)

So many arthouse films look the same nowadays. Few directors have their own distinctive visual style. So it always a revelation when there is a new unique voice. Shirin Neshat made her name as a video artist and her feature debut "Women without Men" can only be called a work of art as well.

Her direction forms a beautiful contrast between quiet, dreamlike poetic scenes and dynamic, chaotic scenes of mass demonstrations. However, this approach is bound to be irritating and makes the film not quite coherent as a whole. Her storytelling abilities may not yet be as advanced as the ones for creating an atmosphere but Shirin Neshat nevertheless shows great promise with her first film. The beautiful cinematograhpy of the more experienced Martin Gschlacht, who was also one of the producers, deserves major credit too.

Despite its participation in the competition of the Venice Film Festival and the good reviews, the film had trouble finding an audience which is only understandable. Its political background may be too much for (Western) cinephiles and for the political-minded viewers, it may be too artsy.

The film was a coproduction between several countries including Germany, Austria, France and Italy and was filmed in Moroccco but since it is entirely set in Iran and its original language is Persian, I boldly declared it an Iranian film.


One of the haunting images from "Women without Men"

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