Roghieh is a woman in Southern Iran who is trying to secure jobs for women in her community. Over 800 women work at a bazaar she established and runs. But the local mayor threatens her work; he wants to destroy the bazaar and to replace it with a shopping mall.
About Mina Keshavarz
A documentary filmmaker and producer, Mina Keshavarz was born in Shiraz in 1984. Since 2002 she has been working as a documentary filmmaker, journalist, and researcher for documentary film projects. She is co-founder of the visual documentary magazine, From Tehran, and she is also co-founder of a website on documentary film issues, Vamostanad (est. 2009 in Iran). She has made several award-winning documentary films on social issues which have premiered in IDFA, Thessaloniki, Sheffield, and Tribeca. To produce creative documentaries with a focus on socio-political issues using a critical approach, she established her documentary film production, MinDoc Film Production in 2013. Mina produced her last film, Braving the Waves, in co-production with Norway and France via funds including the Idfa Bertha Fund and Sorfond. She has experience as a jury member in National and International film festivals. Now she is working on two projects, Far Away, directed by Amin Behroozzadeh, and Soora, directed by herself in co-production with Germany.
As a woman who is living and working in Iran, a conservative and male-dominated society where women’s share of job opportunities is less than one percent, I know how difficult it is to be successful in your job and to reach your goals. I always wanted to show an Iranian woman’s efforts in fighting for equal opportunities and reaching her goals and dreams. I wanted to show an Iranian woman as a powerful person, not as a victim.
Four years ago I made a trip to Minab to visit Roghieh’s Thursday Bazaar where most of the vendors are women. In a small room in the Bazaar I met Roghieh for the first time. I decided to document her situation. After talking to her about her job, she invited me to follow her on her trip to a small village near Minab where she registers women to her NGO. When I told her that I wanted to make a film about her, she said: “I wish to write my story … but I’m sure you’ll give up following me because I work so hard.”
On the contrary, her dramatic situation with the Bazaar, the mayor, other women vendors, and her husband and children made me determined to document her story. While following her over the course of three years, I witnessed that we as Iranian women have to fight for our rights and to prove ourselves in our professions much more than men.
In making this film, I sought to find answers to the questions raised by Roghieh, but that I also ask myself: Will we be successful in a male-dominated society or will we eventually give up? How do we find balance between work and home life? Will we be supported?