Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mrs Rakshan Bani-Etemad, one of the best documentarist of Iran: Give my camera a break, and I will show you what's happening "Under the City Skin"

Iranian writer-director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad is probably Iran's best known and certainly most prolific female filmmaker. She began her career making documentaries for television and her features are steeped in research on Iran's economic and social problems (source). A number of her films are available abroad, including the features Nargess (story of a prostitute in love in the IRI), The May Lady(the story of a single mother of a teenage boy in love) and Under the Skin of the City (about ordinary urban realities of ordinary people which are extraordinary struggles), Gilaneh and the documentary Our Times (about women's political aspirations and regards of democracy.)

Within hours of violence staged against the protesters and media crackdown in the aftermath of the election, she distributed the below video reading a statement on behalf of Iranian documentarists demanding freedom of expression.

She is speaking up again:
I am not afraid.

I am not afraid if in the turmoils of these conspicuous times I will be accused of conspiracy.

I am not afraid to be accused of stirring unrest, but you cannot deny that I am a mother; not only the mother of "Tandis & Baran" [refering to her daughter Baran Kowsari], but also the mother of all that youth who has been witnessing their own mothers through the windows of my films; mother of "Touba", "Gilaneh", "Forough", "Narges", "Seema" and ... [names of female protagonists of her films]

I am the mother of all those who have opened their homes to me; who have told me their suppressed pains of years, such that I can depict their life sufferings on film.

Out of respect for the trust of all my audience, I feel entitled to the right of seek justice for all these mothers who, in the chaos of this crisis, are helpless and vulnerable, either having lost their children, or frantically and frightened seek the missing ones in the four corners of the city. [I feel entitled] to writing this open letter to say that no law, no concern, and no politics justify the pain they are suffering.

In a condition that no media is there to report the truth and no official takes the responsibility of helping the killer anxiety of these parents, how can we not tremble on every rumor of the torture of killing of a young son or daughter?

Give my camera a break to provide you a naked picture, perhaps you do not know what is really happening under the skin of the city.
And here is a translation of her first public statement on this matter:

We are documentary filmmakers.

Our job is to uncover and express truth. expressing truth from several points of view. In the events of the past few days, by hiding reality, the national media is making it impossible for the members of the society to have access to the reality.

We are documentary filmmakers, our job is communication.

Iranian national TV belongs to the whole of the country and is obliged to reflect the opinions and the events of society, hence it must not be the mouth peace of a specific faction and exclude a large portion of the society.

We are documentary filmmakers, and our job is art, committed to culture and the language of our country. Reporting language has to be the guardian of the dignity of the nation. By censoring, spinning and using an inappropriate reporting languahe, the national TV has on the one hand, made lying a norm in the society, and on the other uses disrespectful language against people and in so doing provokes people into chaos and revolt.

We warn you that at the current inflamed situation, depriving the society from ability from peaceful expression of their demands draws the society into violent reactions in people who prior to election were expressing their opinions on their favorite candidates, peacefully side by side.

We warn that these actions [of the national TV, Seda o Seema] lead to violence and unrest and makes them liable for any massacre and chaos in the society and endangers a country that if guaranteed of justice, can reach a true national unity.

Every single one of these people, in every single day of every single year of the past 30 years have been compassionate to each other's sorrow and happiness. They have fought next to each other and have given martyrs and victims.

We are a people of thousand years of history. We are all together, we all share the history of this land.
Don't break us apart!
June 16, 2009

Translated from


Pedestrian said...

I just found out one my classmates is dead :'(

Naj said...

this is a shitty day for me too

hang in there

i am so sorry

let's just hang in there ... we MUST break this cycle of fascism ...

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry. One more reason to go to the protest on saturday. I am beginning to really fear for all those in prison who have not yet been able to contact their families.

Do these people sleep well at night? There is somthing fundamentally wrong with theae people and it is about time they are booted out of power before they do more damage to Iran.

I read this article yesterday about Iran in the National geographic

I think Iranians need to wrestle the country away from these people.

thepoetryman said...

My muse thanks you, Naj. I thank you for inspiring me and calling on me to speak...

thepoetryman said...

Pedestrian, I am so sorry for your loss.

Naj, I am with you. I will remain thus.

Wrestle it away they shall!