Tuesday, August 7, 2012

40. The Circle (2000) *

Her only crime was being a woman

Irani movies are popular in the ICC library.  Alongside the movies by the Makhmalbaf family, Marzieh Meshkini and Bahman Ghobadi, the library boasts a number of films by Jafar Panahi (including Offside which I previously posted about).  Panahi is part of the Iranian New Wave Movement which began at the end of the sixties.  This new wave of national cinema offers visually poetic and intellectual movies considered to be a form of neo-realism, focusing in Panahi's own words, on the 'humanitarian aspects of things'.  

The Circle begins with the circle of life.  A woman gives birth to a baby girl in hospital much to the chagrin of the grandmother.  The rest of the film follows the stories of three other women who met in prison and have escaped.  One woman seeks an abortion, another attempts to go back to her home town, a third is re-arrested. In one day we witness the women encounter a multitude of societal practices and barriers which prevent them from having equal status with men.  

When the woman seeks an abortion in the film she is told that it is unavailable without the consent of the father or without the consent of both grandparents.  It interested me to see that in Iran, often demonised in the Western press as one of the most oppressive societies for women (and other fundamental human rights), abortion is available, albeit in limited circumstances.  Women in Ireland, a democratic country and member of the European Union, do not have access to safe and legal abortions having to travel instead to England where an abortion within the first 9 weeks costs around 300 euro with Marie Stopes.  

A thought provoking movie on women's lives in Iran and more generally. 

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