I feel I have been grossly miss-quoted. I have never made the statement that Shahrbanoo represents all Iranian women. What I did say (specifically at the screening in Los Angeles) was that Shahrbanoo is a strong, articulate, hard working woman who holds her family together and is active within her community – not unlike most Iranian women.
When I was asked how much of Iran this family's belief system represented I explained that this family used to represent the majority of Iran where as now they are a minority. Within the family system, I tried to show the evolution that is taking place within families like Shahrbanoo's all over the country.
For this effort, I juxtaposed Shahrbanoo's nephew (who asserted that Iran could not simply shout “Death to America” and expect to progress) against the argument of the women in the group that America is to blame for all their problems.
It would be naive to conceive that I could or should address all the problems that plague Iran in a one-hour documentary. It was not my intent to address the complex issues Iranian women face nor was it my intention to make a film about the diversity of the population, statistically speaking.
While I believe this film can conjure up heated debates on many levels, respectfully, I think it is important not to stray from my true intentions for his film. Ultimately, I made this film as a counter action to the wildfire of Anti-Islamic propaganda that has been spreading across the United States since September 11th.
Regardless of our personal opinions about Iran and the powerful minority that controls the country, as a whole, we are facing a great battle that will not discriminate between religious fundamentals and assimilated, Western-thinking ex-pats.
So long as the American government claims Iran to be part of an axis of evil that supports terrorist operations and propogates an epidemic of Islamophobia we will feel the blow of prejudice and discrimination.
Already, our families are being denied visas to visit, talented and smart students are being forbidden to attend school here and many innocent people have been targeted by police as suspected terrorists.
The question that I feel as a filmmaker is of utmost importance is: What can I do to defuse and deflect this paranoia that is blindly sweeping across the country? I wanted to show a more human side to what the American government, via the media, labels as terrorism, fundamentalism, hatred, jealousy, ignorance, and inimity.
I wanted to show the American people that “these people” who are rarely called by their names have families too, they love and struggle and desire and experience hardships like everyone else.
I wanted the American people to understand that this kind of stereotypically, fundamental family should not be condemned, bombed, mistreated sanctioned against or subjugated to others ideas of right and wrong.
Shahrbanoo is my small contribution. And I believe I am succeeding, even ever so slightly to change the opinion of the American people. This is my responsibility as an Iranian.
Hamid Rahmanian and Melissa Hibbard spearhead Prometheus Cinema — a movie production company “dedicated to push the boundaries of storytelling.”