Friday, 26 June 2009

The Stoning of Soraya M.

There is a buzz happening around this movie. Part of it is the timing - it's an adaption of the eponymous book written by the Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam who was subjected to a fatwah declared by Khomeini's clerics.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is based on a true story; in fact, you may have read the bestselling book when it came out in 1994. Journalist Freidoune Sahebjam was traveling through Iran when he came upon the village where Soraya had lived and died. He learned about Soraya and her cruel fate from her aunt. Sahebjam’s book gave Soraya a voice from beyond the grave, making her a spokeswoman for all women who have suffered under radical Islam.

Soraya was 35 years old, a wife and mother of seven children, when her husband, Ghorban-Ali, decided to marry a 14-year-old girl. But it would cost him too much to support two families. ... Soraya’s only crime was being what was called “an inconvenient wife,” for standing in the way of her husband’s second marriage. For that crime, Ghorban-Ali determined, she had to die. He brought a false accusation of adultery, and with the support of their friends, neighbors, and family, Soraya was sentenced to death.

Soraya’s story shocked the world when it was published. At that time, little was known in the outside world about a system that said that an accused wife had to prove her innocence, but if a husband were accused, his wife had to prove his guilt. We must remember that these grave injustices, like what happened to Soraya, are still happening today.

The film was presented at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival: Director Cyrus Nowrasteh explained at TIFF that the act of stoning has created,
“Voiceless women, armed with only their innocence and dignity, are no match for the overwhelming primal forces that overrun their town."
The other reason for strong public interest in this film, other than heightened international awareness about Iran and current violent confrontations between religious authority and political forces, is the powerful critical and audience response that it has generated.
Saw this film recently at a special "pre-screening". The Stoning of Soraya M. is one of the few movies you will vividly remember to your dying day. It is almost unwatchable, yet you can't take your eyes off the screen. To think that women are still going through this today, creates a sense of obligation to see this movie. I can't stop thinking about all the women who encounter this type of injustice around the globe. Shohreh [Aghdashloo]'s performance is stunning and she surely deserves an Oscar nomination. She literally has pages of written text on her face, in one glance she communicates so much.
The above review from IMDb reflects the impact 'The Stoning of Soraya M.' has on many viewers. No indication yet on when it will be released on Canadian screens.
Will fundamentalist christian crusading zealots attempt to use this film as propaganda in their ongoing campaign to demonize muslims? Sadly, that would be a tactic typical of their odious hypocrisy and pro-lies spinning.

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