Rakhshan Bani-E’temad, (Persian: رخشان بنی اعتماد, born April 3, 1954 in Tehran, Iran) is an internationally and critically acclaimed Iranian film director and screenwriter. She is widely considered Iran’s premier female director, and her films have been praised at international festivals as well as being remarkably popular with Iranian critics and audiences.
Her title as “First Lady of Iranian Cinema” is not only a reference to her prominence as a filmmaker, but it also connotes her social role of merging politics and family in her work.
Bani-E’temad did not receive immediate praise upon entering the film industry. Her early feature films were met by harsh criticism. However, she finally earned critical and popular success in 1991 with her film Nargess. She received the Best Director Award from the Fajr Film Festival, marking the first time in the history of the festival that a woman was awarded the Best Director prize.
Bani-E’temad’s films are considered socially and politically conscious social documentaries. She aims to reflect the realities of Iranian people’s daily life experiences. Her documentaries are centered on issues of poverty, criminality, divorce, polygamy, social norms, cultural taboos, women’s oppression, and cultural expectations.
With her 2002 film Our Times, Bani-E’temad became the first female filmmaker to explicitly confront the Iran-Iraq war, placing her in an important role in Iranian film history. She has been known to challenge censorship codes to the very edge.
She has donated her international prize for the movie Ghesseh-ha to build a shelter for homeless women. Previously she has also donated some of her awards to help disadvantaged women.
Filmography (as a director)
– 1986: Kharej az Mahdudeh (Off-Limits)
– 1988: Zard-e Ghanari (Canary Yellow)
– 1989: Pul-e Khareji (Foreign Currency)
– 1992: Nargess
– 1995: Rusari Abi (The Blue-Veiled)
– 1998: Banoo-ye Ordibehesht (The May Lady)
– 1999: Baran-O-Bumi (Baran and the Native – short)
– 2001: Zir-e Pust-e Shahr (Under the Skin of the City)
– 2002: Ruzegar-e ma (Our Times – documentary)
– 2004: Gilane
– 2006: Khoon Bazi (Mainline)
– 2009: We Are Half of Iran’s Population
– 2014: Ghesseh-ha (Tales)
Honors and Awards
– Bronze Leopard, 48th Locarno Film Festival (for The Blue-Veiled) (1995)
– The Prince Claus Award (1998)
– Special Golden St. George, 23rd Moscow International Film Festival (for Under the Skin of the City) (2001)
– Best Achievement in Directing, Asia Pacific Screen Awards (for Mainline, with Mohsen Abdolvahab) (2007)
– Honorary doctorate, SOAS, University of London (2008)
– Best Screenplay Award, 71st Venice International Film Festival (for Tales, with Farid Mostafavi) (2014)
Sources: Wikipedia | Rakhshan Bani-E’temad