Women Without Men

Women Without Men

By Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari


Women Without Men, an adaptation of Shahrnush Parsipur's magic realist novel of the same name, is Iranian artist Shirin Neshat's first feature length film. The story chronicles the intertwining lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953; a cataclysmic moment in Iranian history when an American led, British backed coup d'├ętat brought down the democratically elected Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, and reinstalled the Shah to power.

Over the course of several days four disparate women from Iranian society are brought together against the backdrop of political and social turmoil. Fakhri, a middle aged woman trapped in a loveless marriage must contend with her feelings for an old flame who has just returned from America and walked back into her life. Zarin, a young prostitute, tries to escape the devastating realization that she can no longer see the faces of men. Munis, a politically awakened young woman, must resist the seclusion imposed on her by her religiously traditional brother, while her friend Faezeh remains oblivious to the turmoil in the streets and longs only to marry Munis' domineering brother.

As the political turmoil swells in the streets of Tehran, each woman seeks to be liberated from her predicament. Munis becomes an active part of the political struggle by following a young communist who she believes can restore her faith in the world. Fakhri frees herself from the chains of her stagnant marriage by leaving her husband and purchasing a mystical orchard in the outskirts of the city. Faezeh is taken to the orchard by Munis to face her own awakened self after her innocence is stolen, while Zarin attempts to find solace in her newfound communion with the land. But it is only a matter of time before the world outside the walls of the orchard seep into the lives of these four women as their country's history takes a tragic turn.
Germany, France, Iran 99 minutes 2009 Persian, Modern
  • Silver Lion (Winner) - 2009 Venice International Film Festival (Venice, Italy)
  • New Directors/New Films 2010 (New York City, United States)
  • Rotterdam International Film Festival 2010 (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
  • Sundance Film Festival 2010 (Park City, United States)
  • London Film Festival 2009 (London, United Kingdom)
  • Short Cuts Cologne 2009 (Cologne, Germany)
  • Toronto International Film Festival 2009 (Toronto, Canada)
  • Venice International Film Festival 2009 (Venice, Italy)
  • Vienna International Film Festival 2009 (Vienna, Austria)
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  • 80.0/5 Stars.

Claiming their voices

by Alyssa on Jun 15th, 2011
Women Without Men portrays the lives of four Iranian women during a time of political and social turmoil for their country. All at different stages in their lives, and struggling with separate emotional issues, the women are able to passionately display varying forms of opposition towards the lives they are meant to live. Whether it be marital issues, desire for a political voice, or a difficult self discovery, each of the women fight to understand what it is they truly want and can achieve during this time of their lives. At the same time, all of this is made even more difficult because of the state of their country.
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