recent films from Iran focus on the oppression of women in
post-revolutionary Iran, but none so deeply as feminist Tahmineh
Milanis The Hidden Half (Nimeh-Ye Penhan).
Indeed, she was arrested, charged by Irans Islamic Revolutionary
Court of supporting "those waging war against God"
and of supporting counterrevolutionaries through film when
The Hidden Half was released; she is now out
on bail, and her arrest has even be criticized by President
Mohammad Khatami. The story, however, is much milder than
one might think. Fereshteh (played by Niki Karimi) tells the
story of her life in a manuscript secretly presented to her
husband Khosro (played by Mohammad Nikbin), a high-ranking
judge who is sent in the film to Shiraz to interview a woman
accused of a crime who has filed an appeal. After a flight
to Shiraz, the husband checks into a hotel, opens the dossier,
and discovers his wifes autobiographical manuscript,
which she hopes will open her husband's eyes and soften his
heart to listen carefully to the womans case. She begins
her story when she is eighteen, attending the University of
Tehran. The revolution that swept the Shah from power piques
her interest in radical ideas, she joins a Communist sect,
and she distributes leaflets critical of the new regime. Her
activities bring her in touch with a pro-Mossadeq-era intellectual
(played by Atila Pesyani), who is intrigued by her naïve
dedication to a noble cause. While government authorities
crack down on the university campus and arrest agitators,
the intellectual offers her the possibility of escape to England,
but does not tell her that he hopes to live with her there.
The intellectuals wife, however, tells her that he is
married so as to kill the relationship, and she stops seeing
him. She then marries but does not tell her husband about
her past and plays the subordinate role of a woman while secretly
frustrated that she has been denied her own identity over
more than two decades. The film ends as her husband interviews
the accused woman, who begin to relate a similar tale of suffering,
so filmviewers are in doubt what the husband will do next.
Irans authorities clearly objected to the sympathetic
treatment of counterrevolutionaries in the film, but the Political
Film Society has nominated The Hidden Half for
best film exposé and best film on human rights of 2001.
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