Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

Programme (2020)

The Other Side of Burkha (2020)

“A woman is like a pair of shoes. When one is gone, you can find another one. But what am I supposed to do with the children?”, says a grieving husband after the funeral of his wife. The wife in question has killed herself.

Many of Mehrdad Oskouei’s remarkable films portray the lives of Iranian women. Mostly the films focus on women and girls who are oppressed or otherwise have challenging life situations. Despite this, they are not pictured as victims but more so as masters of their own lives, who have important things to say. The Other Side of Burkha (2004) does exactly that, as it tells the story of women in Southern Iran, on the island of Qeshmi, living under the exceptionally strict control of the local patriarchy.

The women of Qeshmi are accustomed to wearing special masks, whose purpose is to cover the eyebrows, nose and the middle part of their face. From behind their masks they tell the stories of their lives and difficulties, even though speaking to the camera is highly forbidden.

For too many Qeshmi women, the only way out from these harsh conditions has been suicide.

The documentary’s running time is a little bit less than an hour and was originally shot in DVCam format. On the screen we’re presented with a Zar ceremony in which demons are being exorcised from the Qeshmi women. For a slight moment the women are able to spin around free from the shackles of their culture – just the way they are.

Kati Juurus
Translation: Aki Pitkäkoski

The film will be screened together with Nose, Iranian Style.

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Film Title : The Other Side of Burkha
Language : persia
Director : Mehrdad Oskouei
Year : 2004
Length : 52
Age limit : K12
Format : SD file
Cinematographer : Ebrahim Saeedi, Mehrdad Oskouei
Editing : Ebrahim Saeedi
Music : Ali Samadpour
Producer : Mehrdad Oskouei
Title in Original Language : Az pase borghe

Screenings :
Thu 30.1. at 19.00, Kino Regina, followed by a Q&A with director Mehrdad Oskouei