Shirin Neshat on Western Culture’s Discrimination Towards Female Narratives and How Iranian Cinema Should Evolve

“I’m very sweet,” Shirin Neshat tells me, “but I’m also very domineering when it comes to my work.” Few who meet Neshat can doubt either part of that sentence. By turns fragile and forceful, Neshat operates these days out of Bushwick, Brooklyn, where she lives in self-imposed exile from her home country of Iran. Her new film, Looking for Oum Kulthum, debuted at the 2017 Venice Film Festival and begins its theatrical run in New York this week.

Oum Kulthum is Neshat’s first film since Women Without Men, which won the Silver Lion at Venice in 2009. Since then, she’s continued to work as a visual artist in photo, video, and film. Among other projects, she received her first major retrospective at the Detroit Institute of Art in 2013 and directed a trailer for the 2013 Vienna International Film Festival starring Natalie Portman. Neshat’s work has long explored issues

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