Rakhshan Bani-Etemad decides to capture images of people involved in the presidential elections of 2001 in Iran. She follows some young cinema actors and artists, including her young daughter, who with lots of hopes and desires for future have started a campaign for Khatami. Meeting some of 48 female presidency nominees whose candidacies have been refused by the government, director is deeply attracted by the character of a 25-year-old widow named Arezoo Bayat, who, despite carrying the heavy burden on her shoulders, wishes to fight not only for a better life for herself, her 9-year-old daughter and blind mother but also for all of Iranian. Afterwards, Rakhshan forgets the main atmosphere of that time and joins Arezoo who has to leave her small home finding another shelter in Tehran, and it’s where we find ourselves beside Arezoo and her problems.
by DEBORAH YOUNG
Both a fascinating glimpse into the recent presidential elections in Iran and a devastating portrait of women’s role in society, ”Our Times” is a refreshing documentary antidote to a wave of sociological fiction films covering much the same ground. First part follows a group of 22-year-old college girls who opened a campaign office for the successful reformist candidate Mohammad Khatami. Second half explores the life of an unsuccessful presidential candidate (there were 711, of whom 48 were women), Arezoo Bayat, a 25-year-old divorced mother. Outspoken director Rakhshan Bani-Etemad (”The May Lady,” ”Under the Skin of the City”) paints an unforgettable picture of women in today’s Iran, emphasizing their indomitable determination to have a voice in politics despite the cards being stacked against them. Pic should put in a lot of festival mileage.
Leafleting for 1Chatami on the streets prior to the election, a group of high-spirited young women refuse the men’s suggestion that they wear a more conservative headdress. ”We’re voting for freedom,” one says. To skeptical bystanders who doubt whether any elected president can carry out reforms against the wi11 of Iran’s powerful clergy, they confidently defend the limited results Khatami has achieved in his first term: ”He does as much as he can.”
Arezoo’s story shows how difficult life can he for a woman without a husband. After divorcing two men addicted to drugs, she’s now sole breadwinner for her blind mother and her daughter. The little girl attends a special school for kids without fathers. Arezoo holds down two grueling jobs to make ends meet, while aspiring to take college courses. Her landlord is throwing them out and no one will rent to a single woman. She’s fired for taking time off to go apartment-hunting. Yet, at a point where many a fiction film would end in tragedy, this real-life heroine, beautiful, self-confident and emotiona1, decides Lo run for president
|Director, screenwriter, born in 1954 in Tehran, B.A. in film directing from Dramatic Arts University, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad began her career as documentary filmmaker for Iranian TV and after some experiences as assistant director, made her first feature film Off the Limits (1987). There is a social attitude in her works and women play the leading role in most of them. Her films have been world-widely successful, winner of many international prizes. She's been the member of jury in several international film festivals, and is now considered as one of the best Iranian directors.|
During the presidential elections of 1997 in Iran, more than twenty million people gave their vote to Khatami. Four years later in 2001, lots of them, disappointed of process of reformations, were discouraged in re-voting Khatami. But in the meantime, Iranian youngsters, forming more than half of the country’s population, participated actively in elections with this aim that their support would strengthen Khatami against conservative forces. The presence of those who, for the first time, were taking part in a political movement, and also ”Arezu ”, a young lady at the highest level of poorness and family problems who introduced herself as a presidency candidate, became the reasons that encouraged me to make a film about this period to be recorded in the history...