Zinat, One Special Day

Ebrahim Mokhtari
Iran 2000 | 56 Min. | BetaSP, OmeU

In the late nineties, city and vil­lage coun­cil elec­tions were held in Iran for the first time in 20 years. Under Prime Min­is­ter Khata­mi, decen­tral­iza­tion became a pri­or­i­ty. Among the 330,000 can­di­dates, there were 5,000 women. One of them was Zinat, a nurs­ing aid, who lived in a vil­lage where mar­ried women tra­di­tion­al­ly wear a »boregeh« or face mask. Mar­ried at the age of 13, Zinat soon fought her pri­vate battle against this and other ubiq­ui­tous­ly accept­ed rules that leave women with little power over their own lives. She decid­ed not to wear the »boregeh«, and became a nurse. As the next step in her act of resis­tance, she became a can­di­date in the election. 

With an unas­sum­ing atti­tude, the film crew fol­lows Zinat on elec­tion day. We see her in her house, where daily life con­tin­ues amidst all the excite­ment of this spe­cial day, and during her visits to patients. Zinat, who is sup­port­ed by her family, is shown engaged in a heavy debate with an elder­ly man who thinks it total­ly normal that women become, as he puts it, »domes­ti­cat­ed ani­mals« after they marry, to serve their hus­bands. He tries to con­vince her to hand her can­di­da­cy over to her hus­band. The strength of this quiet young mother of three is not only present in this scene; it is just as vis­i­ble in the rest of the film as well. At the end of the elec­tion day it seems that many voters in the vil­lage have rec­og­nized her poten­tial. After she wins the elec­tion, she prompt­ly goes to work on the junior high school, the women’s sports hall, and the many other civil projects she has in mind. 

Miryam van Lier