September 14, 2009, Washington D.C. – Renowned Iranian American visual artist Shirin Neshat won the Silver Lion Award at the 66th Venice Film Festival this Saturday for her film, an adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur’s 1979 novel, Women without Men. The film, which is currently being screened at the Toronto Film Festival, takes place in 1953 Iran during the U.S.-backed coup to remove Prime Minister Mossadegh. The film, like the novel, uses magic realism to tell the stories of five women in Tehran, each from a distinct socio-economic background, tied together by the destiny they share – that of being an Iranian woman.
Born in 1957 in Qazvin to upper-middle class parents that were strong supporters of the Shah and of Western culture and values, Neshat’s 1990 visit to post-Revolutionary Iran motivated her first body of work, Women of Allah, produced between 1994 and 1997. Neshat’s work rose to international fame in 1999 when she won the International Award of the XLVIII Biennial of Venice for her works Turbulent and Rapture.
The film, Neshat’s first adaptation of a novel, took six years to make. In an interview, Neshat discussed the immense effort that was put into making a film that stayed true to Parsipur’s complex work of fiction. Neshat lives in New York City and is actively involved in creating art that is global in reach.
Click here for more about the Venice Film Festival and the complete list of awardees.