Screened as part of NZIFF 2001
This portrait of a feisty woman seeking political empowerment in Iran is both personable and inspiring. Married at the age of 13 and expected to live a life of traditional servitude, Zinat determined instead on a career in health care. To be able to receive medical training she became the first woman in her village to dispose of her boregheh, the veil worn by all married women.
It’s a special day now because Zinat is the only woman running for office in the first municipal elections since the foundation of the Islamic Republic. Ironically, because she’s a candidate, she cannot be filmed on election day, except in her home, which is where we see her at work and play with family, visitors and the occasional patient.
Her husband is also running for office, but it’s clear that this politically conscientious family encourages Zinat’s candidacy. This doesn’t mean that traditional roles have changed: the women are still in the kitchen tending to lunch for the many people coming and going. Zinat gently provokes her husband who tenderly sets her place for lunch: ‘He’s just doing that to impress you’, she tells the filmmakers, laughing.
A cantankerous male elder of the village stops by, trying to convince Zinat to withdraw her candidacy and put an end to the embarrassment she’s causing. They argue about what male and female roles are, what men and women are. Zinat is good-humoured and resolute. The election results are announced with much high-spirited joshing, but there is no time for Zinat to pause for celebration, for she is called out to an emergency. This political film, totally and entertainingly biased toward women’s rights, was made by an admiring man. Terrific. — SR