Documentary: FARAH by Frédéric Mitterrand (2009)


Documentary: FARAH by Frédéric Mitterrand (2009)
by Darius Kadivar

Filmmaker Frédéric Mitterrand ( Today France's Minister of Culture) Present's FARAH: The Last Empress a documentary on the Life and Times of Iran's Shahbanou Farah (Diba) Pahlavi on the 30th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

Documentary DVD can also be purchased: here

Watch Online (In French) Here:

Summary in French:

A l’occasion du trentième anniversaire de l’exil du couple Impérial Iranien, Frédéric Mitterrand recueille les confidences de l’impératrice Farah Diba dans un documentaire de 75 minutes.

Il y a trente ans, en janvier 1979, la Révolution Islamique entraînait la chute du régime du Shah d’Iran et le départ du couple impérial.

Farah Pahlavi, dernière impératrice d’Iran, vit en exil depuis bientôt trente ans. Malgré l’éloignement de son pays natal et les menaces constantes qui pèsent encore sur elle et ses enfants, elle continue à défendre la mémoire de son mari, Reza Shah et l’œuvre accomplie à ses côtés durant leur règne.

Reconnue par les familles royales, proche de nombreux leaders politiques à travers le monde, constamment sollicitée par les médias, elle a su éviter tous les pièges d’une vie dorée et sans but, pour entretenir ses amitiés dans tous les milieux et opposer ses propres réponses aux jugements défavorables que l’on porte sur l’histoire contemporaine de l’Iran. Sa vie fut marquée jusqu’à ce jour d’une succession d’événements extraordinaires, à la fois exaltants et douloureux.

Alternant documents d’archives et entretiens exclusifs, le documentaire Farah éclaire de façon inédite le parcours hors du commun de l’épouse du Shah. Des années de règne, en passant par la Révolution Islamique, la disparition brutale de son époux, et enfin l’exil, dont Farah Diba est encore frappée aujourd’hui, autant de piliers et d’épreuves qui ont jalonné l’existence de l’Impératrice et sur lesquels elle accepte de s’exprimer.


more from Darius Kadivar

Dear "Farah Rusta",

by MiNeum71 on

Great comments; it doesn't happen often, that someone writes decent sentences regarding the Pahlavis on



Slander and innuendo as always

by fozolie on

The only thing in "evidence" is Farah's prejudice against Shahbanu. Where you there at this gay wedding? Or you talking from personal experience? 

The implication of your slanderous theories is that Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was a complete imbicile whose judgement was flawed or at best impaired. If that is the case then good riddance.

Mr. Fozolie

Farah Rusta

Dear Darius

by Farah Rusta on

I really enjoy and admire your blogs and wished all monarchists had the balanced view that you have.

My beefs with Shabanu is nothing personal. I repect her as the Shah's widow and the mother of his children. But her part in the downfall of the house of Pahlavi is not something I can ignore.  I believe some of her projects may have delighted the Shah's critics and had them rewarded but did much harm in widening the gap that had already existed between the monarchy and the people. Even in exile she is pleasing the lefties  - taking part in Queen and I and allowing Nahid Presson to interview some of the less attractive members of her entourage. Shahbau's background in pleasing the lefties is wll documented. From encouraging the Shah to appoint the champagne marxists from her days in Ecole des Beaux Arts (Majidi, Rahnema brothers, etc) to partonage of all leftist artists and lastly promoting the champion of the Islamic chic, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, as her personal assitant/adviser. 

The other, and perhaps the most damaging, contribution of Shahbanu was her collaboration with the Shah's personal physician, Dr Ayadi, in keeping the Shah's terminal illness secret from him. This, in other times, could have been taken as an act of treason.

The best service Shahbanu can do to the memory of her late husband is to refuse talking about his days and decline to give any interview or writing an article. 

 With best wishes,



Thanks Darius

by fozolie on

Thanks Darius

Darius Kadivar

Farah Jaan ;0)

by Darius Kadivar on

Your Insights are always interesting even if I don't necessarily share your views on the Shahbanou. You clearly do offer evidence to justify your arguments and I respect you for that.

I simply think that you may be drawing conclusions too quickly on her personality and regarding her responsabilities in the Monarchy's ultimate fall.

I don't think She is flawless nor perfect but who is ? ...

Personally I think she actually made the Pahlavi Monarchy popular amongst the majority of Iranians during her reign mainly because of her warm personality and the fact that she appeared as much more approachable than the former two queens who rarely smiled when in public.

Also  both Reza Shah and his son Muhamed Reza Shah were very militaristic in their general behavior and I truly believe that Farah did bring a little more sunshine and humanity to many public occasions and to the Strict Pahlavi court in general.

As for her using her influence or position to promote her friends or people she knew, I would say that is not particularly shocking to me. One needs alliies and people you can trust or know well as collaborators. It happens in Democracies too. Sarkozy has named close associates in Top government offices simply because he knows them and worked with them in the past. Others may be more competent and deserving for that matter but this happens all the time.

As for Farah's involvement in the Celebrations at Persepolis during the 2500 years of the monarchy, I have clear evidence that she was actually quite opposed to the whole event the way it took off and was organized. But she could not go around and officially contradict her husband's decisions at the time since this was a very important event that aimed at confirming her husband's legitimacy as King of a young Dynasty in an Ancient Land.

Contradictions in someone's personality or behavior at a given time will always appear and they seem more or less striking if the ultimate result of their actions led to their downfall.

Had the Pahlavi monarchy survived, I think that such shortcomings (or in your view errors) would be judged with more indulgence and less severity.

It happens that the Monarchy in Iran Fell in a tragic and comic manner given all the Pomp and Circumstance that was displayed over the years to promote it and sustain its legitimacy. So whatever I may say to justify the Pahlavi Kings Reign will always be confronted to the reality of their downfall.

I just think that the Monarchy in Iran may probably be restored one day in the person of Reza Pahlavi one way or another precisely because of his mother's dignified behavior in the last 30 years since her husbands demise.

Her Loyalty and dedication to her husband's memory is in my humble opinion remarkable and I admire her for that more than anything else.

I had the honor of meeting her in person and from my point of view she is a good person who accepted the honors that befell on her with the same class and dignity as she did when she lost all those priveledges.

I think that the French saw in her destiny in the light of a Cinderella like fairy tale in a similar way that many saw Lady Diana decades later. The Truth often always appears to be very different regarding all people in the public eye.

It is never easy to live up to that public image. I just think that Farah has lived up to that public image and ultimately unlike Lady Diana that public image is truly her real personality that most people including non Iranians admire and like.

I may be blind but I really don't think I am for I am not a die hard Pahlavist and have been and continue to be critical on their shortcomings as I would be of anyone in the public eye.  I consider myself a Monarchist first and a Royalist second in that for me it is all about the institution than the family or person who will have the honor of being crowned as King or Queen of Iran.

If the monarchy is indeed restored one day as I truly wish to see that day, I believe that it is the monarch who has to live up to that expectation (which is the people's expectation) and not the contrary. That is why being a Constitutional King or Queen requires a great deal of dedication and commitment that no ordinary person nor should take for granted.

RP of his children will have to be aware of the weight of responsability that awaits them for it will be heavier than the Crown or Jewels that will be placed on their heads.

I think that RP is aware of that responsability and I wish him luck. Will he succeed ? I personally believe he will but only time can definitively answer this question But That is another debate ...

Warm Regards,






Ostaad :)

by Souri on


Nice observation about Iranian women marrying Iranian men. Very Funny!!! Are you not married ?

Farah Rusta

French Fascination with Farah is Freakish

by Farah Rusta on

Sorry folks for disappointing you in my monarchist credentials but the truth is that Shahbanu Farah (Diba) Pahlavi has single-handedly harmed the institution of monarchy like no other. Let me give you the evidence.

Unlike her predecessors, Qeens Fawzia and Soraya, who were coming from a royal and aristocraric upbringing/background, Farah Diba, a commonor by definition, was supposed to be a people's Queen. This was the principal reason behind her selection. But, her appetite for glamor, wealth and riches, distanced the royal family from the people more than ever.Oh, I am sure my critics will quickly remind me of Farah's role in promoting Iranian arts and handicrafts. A closer look, however, will show you that she always rewarded her own friends, associates and family under the guise of patronage of home made products. From appointing her own cousin, Reza Ghotbi as the director of National Radio and TV and the man behind the Shah's infamous "sedaaye enghlaab" speech, to appointing her long time friend Farrokh Ghaffari as director of Shirza Art Festival, to promoting the little clique of gay artists, namely Khosravani (NO1 boutique), Saffari and Mahvi (the last two were the first - and the last - gay couple to be married in Tehran's key club) to the ostentatious display of pomp and ceremony called the 2500 years festivities, all and all Farah put her personal interests before the people, hence distancing the monarchy from the masses.

After more than a century of tribal depravity, decadance, backwardness and barbarity, otherwise known as Qajar period, Iran was on the road to narrowing the gap that had been created between the people and the Palace. Reza Shah began the process, his son continued the process until the late 1950's but with the emergence of the new queen, Farah Diba, and after a short period of transition, the gap between the people and the Palace widened until it was too wide to be narrowed. 

Daruis jan I hope you don't take personal offence at my comments here as I know of your friendship with Shahbanu but perhaps next time you see her you may wish to take up some of these issues with her :) 



Farah Diba is a very descent Iranian woman, who...

by Ostaad on

was wasted by marrying a doofus, just like many other intelligent Iranian women who are "wasted" by marrying very stupid Iranian men.

Azarin Sadegh

Du coté de Chez Fred!

by Azarin Sadegh on

Oui! C'est le documentaire qui a change mon opinion a propos des Pahlavi. Je me rappelle de l'histoire d'amour entre le Shah et Farah lors de ses derniers jours...Elle était tellement sincère et c'était très émouvant, et je voudrais bien d'acheter le DVD!

Merci beaucoup! Azarine 

Darius Kadivar

My Pleasure Azarin Jaan

by Darius Kadivar on

Ce documentaire a fait un tabac en France lors de sa diffusion sur la chaine France 3. Beaucoup en France ont adopte Farah (Diba) comme une icone des Années Soixantes et Soixante Dix. Les Français l'adore veritablement.  

Comme tu le sais Mitterand a également réalisé un documentaire sur l'Imperatrice en 1989 dans son emission "Du coté de Chez Fred".

J'espère qu'il sera également disponible en DVD comme celui ci.




Azarin Sadegh

Merci Beaucoup Darius!

by Azarin Sadegh on

J'adore Frédéric Mitterrand pour ses documentaires de qualite, et j'adore aussi Farah!

Merci pour le lien!