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The Day I Became a Woman
The Day I Became a Woman
Actors: Fatemeh Cherag Akhar, Hassan Nebhan, Shahr Banou Sisizadeh, Ameneh Passand, Shabnam Toloui
Director: Marzieh Meshkini
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
UR     2006     1hr 18min

"One is not born, but rather becomes a woman." Simone De Beauvoir's exquisite pronouncement on the social construction of gender in her Second Sex (1949) spoke to generations of women, and of a universal truth beyond co...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Fatemeh Cherag Akhar, Hassan Nebhan, Shahr Banou Sisizadeh, Ameneh Passand, Shabnam Toloui
Director: Marzieh Meshkini
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama
Studio: Olive Films
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/07/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 1hr 18min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A Beautiful Film with Immediate Messages on Women
Tsuyoshi | Kyoto, Japan | 04/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Since the 1990s, we have been given more oppotunities to watch Iranian films, and another masterpiece came here. This time, however, the film handles with a more immediate issue in Iran with a very subtle touch (and you may remember that the director Marzieh Meshkini is the wife to the acclaimed Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf ("Kandahar" and "The Cyclist"). "The Day I Became a Woman" consists of three short stories that cover three generations of women. Each part is, as always with Iranian films, based on allegorical meanings, so if you're used to the idea of traditional storytelling, you must stop using that concept for a while. But don't worry, because her method here is more accesible to aundience outside Iran than other works made there. Just try to find what the film really wants to say.The first story follows a girl who meets her 9 year-old birthday. That means, in the traditional view, that she becomes a grown-up woman, and henceforth she belongs to domestic sphere her mother and grandmother are in. No longer she is allowed to play with boys, but the girl contends that as she was born at noon she still has time, and she is finally given short time to meet her best friend (a boy), who is ironically grounded in his room to do his homework. The way she spends the last moment of her childhood is depicted with slow but poetic images. The second follows a married woman who takes part in a bicycle race. But her husband threatens her to stop, then her family, the village's chief, and so on. But in spite of these interruption, she keeps on going, never thinking of stopping for them, even facing her divorce. From what she rides, or runs? To where she runs? These questions are never directly replied, but instead, with a dynanic images of rushing bicycles (all driven women) the film keeps on running breathless, leading us to its shattering ending.The third one, most humorous and poignant, portrays an old lady, who comes to a shopping center to buy things for her house. As she has inherited money, she can buy anything she wants -- a fridge, clearner, television, tea-pot, you name it. One irony is that she cannot remember one thing that she really wanted, and that is the crucial point of the film. Spreading all she bought on the beach, she tried to remember in vain while the children play with them. The answer is again indirectly shown, implied by the past her story suggests, but I should not reveal that part. Find it for yourself.Shot with lyricism, and infused with urgent messages about today's women's status in Iran (and probably anywhere else), "The Day I Became a Woman," short as it is, offers more chance than any other film these days, to think about those issues we all should be conscious of. But before that, let me say the film is a great success with its poetic visuals with simple fable-like quality. Shot in Kish Island on the Pertian Gulf, this film is a must for any film buff with a discerning eye. And it shows a glimpse of life on this beautiful island, a famous resort place, where, perhaps to your surprise, you will encounter unexpectedly a huge shopping center that looks like those you see in LA, Tokyo and London."
Beautiful!!! The best I have seen in a long time.
Tsuyoshi | 07/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

" Nothing against the American industry, but if you are looking for a Hollywood movie try something else. Yes, there is plenty of beauty and fantasy, but not in the American fashion. Here the stories and people and places are very simple (and very deep). Yet, the fantasy is so real that you can very easily transpose it to your own life, regardless if you came from Middle East, Japan or Americas. Well, as long as you have some brains and some subtlety. Well, I saw this movie four weeks ago, and I could not stop thing about it since. The more I think, the more I learn. Every single detail of the story, camera work and sound has a meaning. I read a magazine review critic complaining the movie was boring, specially the first story, in which the girl was a very bad actress, concerned about not playing that day, but not showing emotions for what her life was going to be. Does a nine year old girl understand what is "becoming a woman"? Of course not, her understanding was limited to that moment when she was being forbidden to play with her best friend. This is exactly what made the story so universal, I could remember myself (raised on an environment with freedom for women) waiting for the permissions of my mother, desperately waiting for the time of the adults. And inside the critical context of the movie, her lack of understanding of what her life was going to become was also very important. Oh, and so many other meanings and symbols just in this first story. The wind and water (also present in the other two stories), the plastic fish by which she exchanges her chaddor, her little time passing away and she unable to use it and still waiting, her availability, the lollipop teasing across the bar separating her from her boy friend (the *given* pleasure the only control left to her), her mother coming to pick her up, etc. The other two stories are as good and universal. Even if you live inside a women's lib society, even if you are a man. This movie is a work of art. So, it demands sensibility for understanding it. If you are looking for fast food entertainment, forget about it. "
Truly a one-of-a-kind film
Julie D | US | 07/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I hope that the viewers of "The Day I Became a Woman" enjoy as much as I did its captivating subtleties and the remarkably intelligent way in which it poses necessary and important questions that concern all human beings; questions of self-actualization, the overcoming of fear, and the experience of drastic change in a given moment. This film asks us to look deeper than popular, taken-for-granted understandings of concepts like dominance and submission, self and other, man and woman. It effectively forces us to question myth and memory and to challenge what we have been led to interpret as the condition of women in Islamic societies.

Director Marziyeh Meshkini has done a superb job of neutralizing myths and stereotypes, introducing her audience to three different women of three different generations, each experiencing the same "problem": each of their lives changed forever on the days they became women. Meshkini's story is told in three parts: in the first, we meet a young girl on her ninth birthday who is told by her mother and grandmother that she can, after a certain point in that day, no longer play with her male friend because she has become a woman, subject to the same restrictions as her mother, grandmother, and all other females she will encounter in her lifetime. In the second vignette, we are introduced to a young woman riding her bicycle with all her strength, away from her husband. The force she expends riding from something she knows she can never fully escape is amazing, and to watch it breathtaking. While attempting to run from her designated "place" pre-determined for her by society, she experiences an act of pure will that cannot be categorized as mere defiance of a norm or dominant mode of thought. This norm or mode is somehow not necessary for her will to exist.

In the third and final section we meet an old woman who, for the first time in her life, is able to purchase the things she has always wanted but has never been able to buy. Meshkini uses particularly subtle and fascinating technique in this vignette, and her audience is able to see that the distinction between what we have come to know as "apparent" or "obvious" and "fantasy" is blurred.

I am especially pleased that this film is being released on DVD with lots of special features. I went and found the website for the film ([...]) and noticed that it comes with an essay by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, and with an audiocomentary by Richard Pena. This DVD is definitely worth a look if you are looking to watch a unique and highly intelligent examination of the condition of womanhood, not just in Iran but throughout the world."
Tapestry of female experience in modern Iran.
darragh o'donoghue | 03/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Marzieh Meshkini's triptych charts the three ages of woman - girl, adult, crone - to reveal the limitations on female experience in Iran, past, present and possibly future.The film opens with a bright blue sea, partly blocked by a black scarf being used as a sail on a makeshift boat. This image crystallises the film's theme - the wide horizons offered by the world limited by the socially-controlled fact of being a woman. Clothes are crucial - this scarf, an emblem of oppression for women, becomes a practical item that confirms freedom for the boys. The heroine of the first story wears her hair free and a loose summery dress; she is used to playing the beach with boys. Today is her ninth birthday, the day she becomes a woman - this means donning the heavy black chador like her mother and grandmother, effacing herself and staying at home, whose doors, walls and windows are a heavy presence. Arguing that she's still a child because she was born at noon, she manages to wangle one last free hour, to be marked by the stick she carries, whose shadow will indicate the time. Hence a social injustice is justified by reference to nature and the land. Our knowledge of her life closing up gives this final hour a desperate urgency, but the director imposes no heavy portentousness, revealing instead the youth, spontaneity, openness, wit and charm to be soon lost. The most painful (to us), charged and delightful sequence sees her sharing candy through a barred window with her best friend, an impish youth in American gear who has been grounded to do his homework. The fact that this scenario will soon be irreversibly reversed makes the charm almost obscene.The second story seems to continue the surreal strain of the director's daughter, Samira Makhmalbaf's 'Blackboards', as a man galloping urgently on a strong horse shouting 'Aloo', is shot in speedy tracks. He comes across an endless line of scarved female cyclists, whose presence is only explained in the third part, and so whose inexplicability increses the tension. He picks out one woman, Aloo, and demands she returns home. Despite the snickers of her compadres, she refuses. Her husband returns with a Mullah and threatens divorce - she retorts, go ahead. Her father and tribal elders, then her thuggish brothers, all emanate from nowhere and inexorably demand she return to being a submissive woman. The psychological agony that sears the protagonist is only fitfully shown in her face, but is revealed in a series of dislocated, hallucinatory landscapes, in which the soundtrack moans. The clash between modernity and tradition suggested in the bicycles and horses paralells the strong visual presence of the environment, the aridity of the desert plains, and the potential refreshment and rebirth of the clear, beating sea.After the unnerving shock of the central story, the finale seems to offer comic relief, and almost threatens to sink into cutesy magic realism. For the first time we seem modern, cosmopolitan Iran, as a group of young boys with trolleys wait at the airport for incoming passengers. One carries an old lady of just-inherited wealth, who begins shopping in the spanking malls, because she has never had anything in her life. With her retinue strung behind her, huge cardboard boxes on trolleys, this old woman on wheels is like a reverse, comic image of the fugitive in the second story. Waiting for the ship to carry her cargo, she lays out her purchases on a gleaming beach, in effect constructing a house without walls, like some kind of Surrealist travel brochure. When she returns into town to replace a teapot she dislikes, her servants take over, boys indulging the freedom to play and experiment with identity denied the film's women, all of whom return in this closing story, either by presence or allusion. A defiant, provocative political plea, 'The Day I Became A Woman' is more accessible than the films of Kiarostami or Samira Makhmalbaf, as it leavens the formal and ideological rigour with the pleasures of colour, action and humour."