Home Entertainment A short film that lifts the veil on Iranian women who reject male domination

A short film that lifts the veil on Iranian women who reject male domination

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Mamer (Luxembourg) (AFP) – Oscar-nominated shorts often go unnoticed by a wide audience. But when it comes to an Iranian girl seeking liberation from male domination by taking off her veil, interest is sure to increase.

This is the introduction to the 17-minute “La Valise rouge”, which will shed light on the protests that have swept Iran since last September during the Oscars in Los Angeles on March 12.

Set at Luxembourg Airport, the film tells the story of a 16-year-old Iranian girl, newly arrived from Tehran, who anxiously removes her veil to escape an unfortunate fate dictated to her by men.

For director Cyrus Nashvad, who was born in Iran and holds Luxembourgish citizenship, the Oscar nomination is an opportunity to highlight what the “virus” of the Islamic regime is doing to the “beautiful body” in his country of origin.

“Once we get rid of this virus, the body starts to thrive again,” he told AFP.

Protests erupted in Iran after the death in police custody on September 16 of a young Iranian woman, Mohsaa Amini, who was arrested for improperly wearing a headscarf imposed by the country’s clergy.

Since then, they have spread to become one of the most serious challenges for the hardline Islamic clerics who seized power in 1979.

The regime has responded by cracking down on protesters with arrests and executions — but it has also turned on those who express their support, among the country’s athletes and filmmakers.

Take off your veil

For Nashvad, “The Red Bag” was not a product of the current uprising in Iran – it was filmed a year before it broke out.

But its roots lie in the injustices faced by her family – of the Baha’i faith, which is systematically persecuted in Iran – as well as those suffered by Iranian girls and women long before Amini’s death brought her to the world’s attention.

“For me (the film) was about a woman, and women in Iran are controlled by men,” said the director, who is in his forties.

French-Algerian actress Noël Effad said her character “chose herself” by removing her veil © Joel Saget/AFP

He said in Iran: If a woman wants to do something, or go to visit something, then the man (her father or husband) must agree and write the paper and sign it. »

For the young girl in her film removing her veil, it was a “courageous” moment – for her to rebel against the path that was forced upon her, but also to inspire viewers.

“It will be a message,” said Nishvad, “follow me – like me, take off your veil, do not accept this domination, and let us be free, at least we have free will to decide.”

Her actress, Noel Ifad, 22, is not Iranian and used a dialogue coach to deliver the few lines in the required Persian.

But as a French Algerian, the issue of women and the Islamic veil — and the controversy surrounding them in the West — was familiar to her.

“I received an Islamic education and wore it,” she told AFP in Paris, where she lives.

But for her, wearing them was “absolutely no obligation,” she notes.

And even for her character in the movie, when she takes off her veil, “It is not of her will, though she takes it off herself—I think there are a lot of women in Iran, and elsewhere, where the veil is an extension of themselves.”

Criticism of the West too

But in the film, by removing the veil, her character ends up “choosing herself.”

“That’s what I find so beautiful about this film…the skepticism that anyone, in any country, in any culture, faces… What would I choose for myself – the same? Do I listen to my family? Do I make my own choices?”

Nashvad sees Iran’s Islamic regime as a “virus” ravaging its homeland © JOHN THYS / AFP

Nashvad’s French screenwriting partner, Guillaume Leville, also suggested that the film’s sexual advertisements in airports highlight the possibility of criticizing the West for exploiting women and their public image.

The director said that the film’s final image, a commercial featuring a blonde model with abundant curly hair, was emblematic of social dictates.

“As we get the camera closer to her face, we slowly see that she’s not happy, and when we get really close, we see that she’s scared,” he said.

And with that, I wanted to end the movie. So you have both sides, not just one, but both sides. »

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