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Going Up the Stairs: Portrait of an Unlikely Iranian Artist
Iran, 2011, 52 minutes, Color, DVD, Subtitled (Persian, French)
Order No. W121083
Warm, revealing and often surprisingly funny, Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's portrait of an unlikely artist shows us that true talent will refuse to be stifled and you don't need an education to channel your emotions into art. Akram is an illiterate 50 year old Iranian woman who became a painter unexpectedly when her young grandson asked her to work on a drawing; that simple act tapped into an explosion of powerful, primitive and colorful paintings, which she hid under the carpet from possibly disapproving eyes. She finally tells her Western educated children about her work and they arrange for her to have an exhibition in far-off Paris. The only hitch in this plan is that Akram must obtain permission from her husband - who she married when she was 8 and he was in his 30s - in order to attend. Their comfortable bickering covers up Akram's frustrations and fears that her chance for recognition of her magical talent lays completely in the hands of this conservative and traditional Iranian man. An inspiring resource for courses on contemporary Muslim and Islamic studies, women's studies, art and more.


Sheffield Doc/Fest, Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award: Best Female-Directed Film

  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Silver Wolf Nomination
  • True/False Film Festival
  • UNAFF United Nations Association Film Festival
  • St. Louis International Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival, NY

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    "Highly Recommended. Provides a much-needed unconventional observation of inequality and gender issues in contemporary Iran."
    Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)

    "Endearing...the film has a lightness and sense of humor rather than the dark, oppressive tone that one might expect from the inequality evident in Akram's traditional conservative marriage - the colorful banter between the couple is especially revealing, speaking of a love gained begrudgingly over time."
    Basil Tsiokos
    What (Not) To Doc

    "A portrait of a painter who expresses herself as colorfully in words as she does in imagery, but also a tragicomic portrait of a traditional Iranian marriage."
    International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam

    "Honest, moving and surprisingly funny GOING UP THE STAIRS, enchants us with its candid subject, the intractable Akram. Maghami's statement is not political, but reminds us that although there is residual pain in these divested tales of working class women of Iran, there is also an incredible lightness and alacrity that proves to be even more potent and enduring."
    Fariha Roisin

    "An interesting portrait of an artist marginalized simply because she is a woman, “Going Up the Stairs” is one of the stronger selections of this year’s Human Rights Watch Fest."
    Epoch Times

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    Going Up the Stairs: Portrait of an Unlikely Iranian Artist is included in the following Special Collections.
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