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Divorce Iranian Style
England, 1998, 80 minutes, Color, 16mm/DVD
Order No. W99619
Hilarious, tragic, stirring, this fly-on-the-wall look at several weeks in an Iranian divorce court provides a unique window into the intimate circumstances of Iranian women’s lives. Following Jamileh, whose husband beats her; Ziba, a 16-year-old trying to divorce her 38-year-old husband; and Maryam, who is desperately fighting to gain custody of her daughters, this deadpan chronicle showcases the strength, ingenuity, and guile with which they confront biased laws, a Kafaka-esque administrative system, and their husbands’ and families’ rage to gain divorces.

With the barest of commentary, acclaimed director Kim Longinotto turns her cameras on the court and lets it tell its own story. Dispelling images of Iran as a country of war, hostages, and “fatwas”, and Iranian women as passive victims of a terrible system, this film is a subtle, fascinating look at women’s lives in a country which is little known to most Americans. Directed by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini, author of MARRIAGE ON TRIAL: A STUDY OF ISLAMIC FAMILY LAW.


Viewpoint Int'l Documentary Film Festival, Best Film
BAFTA Awards, Flaherty Documentary Award for TV
Biarritz Int'l Festival of Audiovisual Programming, Silver FIPA
Chicago Int'l Film Festival, Silver Hugo Award for Best Documentary
Yamagata Int'l Film Festival, FIPRESCI Award
San Francisco Golden Gate Award, Grand Prize for Best Documentary
Kalamata Int'l Film Festival, Greece, Best Feature Film Documentary
Jerusalem Documentary Festival, Honorable Mention

  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
  • Viennale International Film Festival
  • Vancouver Film Festival
  • Marseilles Film Festival
  • Edinburgh Film Festival
  • Sheffield Documentary Film Festival

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    “A fascinating verite-style documentary that counters with compassion, humor, and a keen nose for spotting empathetic characters, strong-willed women, and dramatic moments, the traditional stereotypes of women in the Muslim world as passive victims.”
    Hamid Naficy
    Author, The Making of Exile Cultures: Iranian Television in Los Angeles

    “…could be effectively used in the classroom to challenge common stereotypes of Muslim women and to initiate conversation on the secular/religious distinction, the operations of state power and conceptions of choice and agency.”
    Mitra Rastegar
    Films for the Feminist Classroom, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society

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WMM offers film collections on a variety of specific subject areas, including the collections VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Ending the Silence, BODY IMAGE, and AFRICAN-AMERICAN: Celebrate the Lives of African-American Women.

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Women Make Movies is a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitiates the production, promotion, distribution, and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women. contact us