Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
A zealous warden and a strong-willed prisoner are the two dominant figures in a crowded Iranian women’s prison. The changing nature of their antagonism serves as a structural motif for this startling depicton of two decades of life inside.
“With less censorship, Iranian filmmakers find themselves more able to address issues pertinent to their female viewers. Manijeh Hekmat’s feature début stretches the new freedom to its limits. Composed of three segments (set in 1984, 1992 and 2001), Women’s Prison deals with turbulent times in Iranian history and sensitive topics such as crime, corruption, prostitution, drug addiction and homosexuality… With pressure from reformists in the Iranian government and support from many members of the Majlis and President Khatami himself, a censored version of Women’s Prison finally opened in Tehran on August 7, 2002. In spite of not being allowed to have television teasers, the film set new box office records for an opening in the post-Revolutionary era.” — Alissa Simon, Senses of Cinema. (It has subsequently been banned in several Iranian cities.)