Persepolis: Marjane Satrapi's subversive masterpiece Persepolis seduces audiences in Cannes.

Author:Kadivar, Darius

THIS YEAR'S CANNES International Film Festival mesmerised viewers with a simple black and white animated French produced film by Iranian born Marjane Satrapi entitled Persepolis. Amidst an international selection of heavyweight feature films by such greats as Quentin Tarantino, Wong Kar Wai and Gus Van Sant, an outspoken cosmopolitan duo of first-time directors, Iranian Marjane Satrapi and France's Vincent Paronnaud, seduced the Cannes Jury and the audience with their astonishing movie, the theme of which, resonated not only with our post-11 September troubled times, but was also a historical reminder of a nation's struggle to survive.

The screening of the film, at the 60th Cannes film festival, regarded as the most prestigious event of its kind, was followed by a spontaneous and lengthy standing ovation for the cast and crew.

Selected to run in several categories including the Palme D'Or, the film tied for first place in the Jury Prize category along with Silent Night, directed by Mexico's Carlos Reygadas.

An emotional Miss Satrapi dedicated her "universally themed film" to "all her Iranian compatriots worldwide".

The movie is an adaptation of the first black and white graphic novel by Satrapi. In the book, she describes her childhood during and after the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi in 1979, and the strict Islamic theocracy, controlled by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, that came to power soon afterwards. The child Marji, Satrapi's alter-ego, talks about the deep personal and political repression she experienced while growing up in theocratic Iran.

Persepolis offers a unique perspective on the social and historical changes that have taken place in Iranian society over three decades, providing valuable insights into the Iran-Iraq War as well as the personal challenges facing an outspoken Iranian girl growing up in exile.

In the Tehran of 1978, eight-year-old Marji dreams of being a future prophet, intent on saving the world.

Cherished by her modern and cultivated parents and adored by her grandmother, she avidly follows the events that lead to the downfall of the Shah's regime.

The introduction of the new Islamic Republic heralds the era of the 'Guardians of the Revolution' who control how people should dress and act. Marji, who must now wear the veil, dreams of being a revolutionary. Soon after, the city is bombarded in the war against Iraq. With the deprivations brought on by the conflict and the routine disappearances of...

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