Director: Shirin Neshat
Winner of the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival.
It's not surprising that Shirin Neshat's debut feature is so visually transfixing - considering she's one of the most influential Middle Eastern artists alive today. Renowned for her photographic work exploring gender issues, Neshat continues the theme in this tragic feminist allegory based on Shahrnoush Parsipour's novel of the same name.
Against the backdrop of the 1953 CIA-backed coup d'état that toppled Iran's democratically elected government and replaced it with the Shah, four women with four different stories converge on an evocatively coloured, haunted garden.
A striking stylistic contrast to contemporary Iranian cinema, Neshat presents these stories in the style of a Sirkian melodrama with flourishes of magical realism, creating a film of fierce beauty and slick precision.