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DAUGHTERS OF THE SUN
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posted June 18, 2001 11:26
DAUGHTERS OF THE SUN made its world premiere at the 2000 Montreal Festival of World Cinema where it won the prize for Best First Feature. This beautifully shot film also captured the NETPAC prize at the 2001 Rotterdam International Festival, and has been an audience favorite on the international festival circuit. Facets will release the film theatrically and non-theatrically in the U.S. and make an English-subtitled video available for sales and rentals. Facets will also own the U.S. television and cable rights.
One of the most controversial films to come out of Iran's increasingly daring national cinema, DAUGHTERS OF THE SUN focuses on Amangol, a young woman disguised as a boy who labors long hours in a carpet workshop to help support her needy family. There, another girl falls in love with her, not knowing her true identity.
The oldest of six daughters, Amanagol comes from a poor rural family. Her father attempts to gain some income for the household while ridding himself of one mouth to feed. He shaves Amangol's head and dresses her in boy's clothes; sending "Aman" to a distant village where a vicious carpet dealer is seeking an apprentice. A talented weaver, "Aman" is quickly hired. Unlike the three young women, day laborers, who share the work space, "Aman" never speaks or slacks off. Although lonely, Amangol remains circumspect so her secret won't be discovered. As the carpet dealer burdens "Aman" with more responsibilities and harsh punishments, Amangol finds her role as a boy increasingly difficult to play, particularly when co-worker Belgheis falls in love with her male persona.
Like other recent films about women in Iran such as THE CIRCLE and THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN, DAUGHTERS OF THE SUN is about imprisonment -- physical, economic and spiritual -- and writer-director Shahriar does a masterful job of composing her frames to evoke the theme of incarceration. The use of casements and doors and even a horse corral as framing devices, and the interplay of art and beauty, and cruelty and confinement, suggest the influence of Sergei Paradjanov. The shorn, saturnine visage of "Aman" is employed to extraordinary effect; at times it is reminiscent of Falconetti in THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC.
As recently as six years ago, a code of conduct for the Iranian film industry was proposed which forbade performers to cross dress. Even today, all actresses must be depicted with their hair covered. Yet DAUGHTERS OF THE SON features an actress portraying a boy, performing bare-headed (albeit shorn of her sanctioned tresses), in a story where she arouses the love of another girl. Obviously the Iranian cinema would never make BOYS DON'T CRY, but DAUGHTERS OF THE SUN is an equally brave film. Debuting writer/director Mariam Shahriar problematizes gender in a manner particular to the Iranian context, creating a poignant and fascinating film.
Writer-director Mariam Shahriar was born in Tehran in 1966. She studied film at the University of California and graduated from the University of Rome. She began her career working in the Italian film industry.
Running time: 90 minutes
All times are PT (US)
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