The Ladies Room


A film by Mahnaz Afzali, Produced by Hassan Poor-Shirazi & Mahnaz Afzali

Iran | 2003 | 55 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 04846


Directed by the acclaimed Iranian actress Mahnaz Afzali and filmed entirely inside a ladies washroom in a public park in Tehran, this absorbing documentary shatters Western preconceptions of Iranian women. Populated by addicts, prostitutes, runaway girls and others who simply enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere, the ladies room becomes one of the few places where women feel comfortable enough to smoke cigarettes, discuss taboo subjects and remove their veils. In a series of frank and intimate conversations, these diverse women debate everything from drugs and family abuse, to sex, relationships and religion. Maryam is an epileptic who reveals the brutal circumstances that drove her to heroin addiction and self-mutilation; Sepideh describes her fraught relationship with her mother and her struggle to get back on her feet; and the old woman who runs the bathroom alternately offers tough love and a shoulder to cry on. Raw and provocative, this engrossing film is a remarkable verite look at the hidden lives of Iranian women.


“*** Recommended.”

Video Librarian

“Never before have I been so surprised by a film’s candor and honesty. The Ladies’ is an amazing testament to Mahnaz Afzali’s restraint as a filmmaker as she steps into the background and lets these women, who are second-class citizens in Iran, be themselves- totally unrestrained and surprisingly progressive.”

Mary Kerr Programming Director, SILVERDOCS

“Mahnaz Afzali has produced a film that crosses any number of usually rigid boundaries…offers a rare opportunity for Afzali to document private conversations, and the privacy of the ladies room (off limits to men) offers the women themselves a public community.”

Alexandra Keller Smith College


  • Gene Siskel Film Center of Chicago
  • Int’l Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (IDFA)
  • Int’l Documentary Film Festival Munich
  • Silverdocs Documentary Festival
  • Pusan International Film Festival
  • The Montreal Int’l Festival of New Cinema and New Media


Mahnaz Afzali

Born in 1964 in Tehran, Mahnaz Afzali is a well-known cinema and TV actress who has played in ten feature films and three TV series. She directed her first film, NO WITNESS, a documentary, in 2000. THE LADIES’ ROOM, released in 2003, was her second film and she also directed the 2006 documentary RED CARD. (07/12)


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