The Queen and I

Nahid Persson Sarvestani, Sweden / Egypt / France / Germany / USA, 2008, color, HDcam, 89'
Synopsis

In her award-winning documentary Prostitution Behind the Veil, about two Iranian prostitutes, Nahid expressed fierce criticism of the position of women in her native country. This drove the Islamic regime to accuse the leftist filmmaker of monarchist sympathies, whereas she helped depose the shah during the Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s. In reaction to these reprimands, Nahid decided to make a film about Farah, the last Iranian queen, who lives abroad like herself. This led to a fascinating encounter between two women with clashing political visions who develop an improbable friendship in the two years of their association. Nahid expressly appears onscreen together with the queen and talks about the problems she has run into in the voice-over. Out of sympathy and for fear that the now 70-year-old Farah will refuse further cooperation, she does't dare ask the queen any truly confronting questions about the shah's regime. These are interesting questions that bring to light a number of dilemmas every documentary filmmaker must contend with. To what extent do you let your documentary subjects impose their will on you, and to what extent do you comply with the image people want to create of themselves?

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