- Telling the Girl's Side of the Story: Heterotopic Spaces of Femininity in Iranian Film
- Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East
- Duke University Press
- Volume 32, Number 2, 2012
- pp. 374-390
- View Citation
- Additional Information
One of the signature characteristics of Iranian film since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 is the appearance of children as primary protagonists in narratives about postrevolutionary life. Abbas Kiarostami in Where Is the Friend's Home? (1987), for example, uses children as observers of the constrained conditions under which female Iranians lived and Iranian filmmakers operated. During the last decade, filmmakers such as Jafar Panahi, Rasul Sadr Ameli, and Marziyeh Meshkini, who have adapted Kiarostami's use of children as cinematic narrators, have offered more explicit accounts of contemporary Iranian life (including relationships between men and women). In these directors' depictions of Iranian children, feminist critics have noted that girls are largely absent. On closer inspection, however, women are not entirely invisible in their cinematic productions. Dempsey's essay argues that in films such as The Mirror (1998), The Girl in the Sneakers (1998), and The Day I Became a Woman (2000), girls and young women inhabit the edges of the sidewalks, nighttime transient-filled parks, roadside gutters, and other liminal spaces that underscore their marginalized and ephemeral, yet tangible presence—a presence that is nonetheless invisible to those who reside in the "center." These cinematic girls, female adolescents, and young women inhabit what Michel Foucault has famously called "heterotopias." This article engages with bell hooks's and Craig Wilkins's reframing of Foucault's heterotopic space to argue that Panahi, Sadr Ameli, and Meshkini create celebratory heterotopias in which girls and young women are able to subvert or challenge dominant patriarchal cultural conventions.