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A Review on "Circumstance" by Maryam Keshavarz

By the recent years, several Iranian women have made films about Iran. Although they live in different countries outside Iran, they share similar social characteristics. All of these films also share recurring themes. I have recently seen three films: Circumstance by Maryam Keshavarz, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and My Tehran for Sale by Granaz Mousavi. There are some more similar female directors whom I don't discuss in details here. Let us see first how these directors share same social characteristics and then review recurring themes in their movies emphasizing Circumstance.

Growing up in Bed of Roses. Actually, only a small portion of Iranian society can afford to pay for their children to study and live in a foreign country. Maryam Keshavarz, like Satrapi and Mousavi has grown up in a wealthy family. All of them rose up in educated families. And all of them are beautiful. This seems to be ridiculous to include these factors in an academic review. However, this is the very point. Because of their personal and social characteristics, they have been socialized in a way that they can hardly tolerate to be challenged. Also, not only their families, but also weak men frequently have made them sure that they are always right. These kinds of children are also taught that their needs and desires should immediately be met, no matter how it costs to others. When these children come to adulthood, something bitter starts to happen. There are some people out there who don't have any intention to bend to their wills. Social norms are also disgusting, as they don't know any boundary for their will. Therefore, they start challenging all social norms. And one important foundation of every society, is family.

Misadnry. Because of their socio-economic status, these kinds of women have been in contact with a certain kind of men. These men are mostly selfish, dependent and weak. These are three characteristics that a woman hates most for her man to have. Rather than accepting the responsibility of managing the needs of a woman, these men need a mother to help them pull themselves together. Therefore, every woman who falls in love with such men, will pay a heavy emotional cost. And, if that woman has been raised in bed of roses and has been taught that her desires must be met immediately regardless of what it costs for others, these emotional consequences will be irremediable. Retries with other similar men will only exacerbate the situation. Moreover, men have manhood. Men are in their nature imperious. Our female directors have never tolerated any authoritative treatment. Men and their damn authoritative mood are at the same time tasty and disgusting. However, the latter is more sensible for our female directors. Therefore, these women hate every man in the world. Every man is understood as infidel, selfish, maniac and weak.

Poor Knowledge of the Iranian Culture and Society. All the directors mentioned -and not mentioned- above, have lived in Iran and were in contact with Iranian culture and society. However, they have poor knowledge of the Iranian society and culture. They have been raised up in a very ideal situation. They have been told they were -and are- the bests. Therefore, they have never felt a need to get out of their cave and see how other people live and feel. Moreover, they have been surrounded by other men and women who are from the same socio-economic group. For them, Iran is a small group of former -and present- aristocrats who have enough money to pay for their cultural activities. Unfortunately, this group consists less than one percent of the Iranian society.

Now that we reviewed social characteristics of Maryam Keshavarz and other similar directors, let us move to recurring themes in their movies. Here, we focus on the Circumstance.

Misandry. Misandry is a recurring and loved theme for Maryam Keshavarz, as well as Marjane Satrapi and Granaz Mousavi. Keshavarz portrays men as weak, suppressive, selfish and stupid. Men, in Keshavarz's film are sex maniacs whose sexual intentions define all what they do, even with their siblings and children. The love of a father to her daughter is nothing but a loosely commoditized intention.

Sexual Perversion. Keshavarz's Circumstance directly and obviously mucks a healthy heterosexual relationship. Heterosexual couple's are portrayed as ill, psychotic and disgusting while homosexuality is portrayed as the virtue, true love and the truth that only protagonists search for it.

Anti-Familism. Family, for Maryam Keshavarz, Marjane Satrapi and Granaz Mousavi, is the source of suppression, and has to be eliminated. They are attacking an institution that has produced them as successful women, while they themselves offer nothing but hedonism which in their own cases has not produce even a single top student! In one of the last sequences, Mehran expresses his wishes to have a healthy family and children and everyone is overcome by nausea. If having children is so terrible, how the human race could reach this point of the history.

Insulting Modesty. All of these directors suffer clinical hate to modest women and do their best to besmirch them with every mean. Maryam Keshavarz, like Marjane Satrapi and Granaz Mousavi harshly attack every woman who doesn't want to deliver her body to transient desire of men. Modesty, in their mind is stupidity and the modest is the bastard. They deny the basic right of woman over their body. Do we have right to tell people what they must do with their bodies?

Political Activism is Hedonism. One annoying and recurring theme in these films is to show anti-social corrupt people as political protagonists. For Maryam Keshavarz, sex maniacs are political heroes who jeopardize their lives to free a country. This is essentially untrue. Political activists are mainly strong men and women who have come out of their bodies. They have solved their immediate problems and now it is time for them to give a hand to a body, our many bodies, outside their relieved bodies. Those who are still caught into their lowest desires, and are still grappling with their sexual orientation, cannot be political activists. They are in need of help, and of course an emergency one. Political activism needs self sacrifice. If one only thinks of his or her desires, can he or she do self sacrifice?

And, Maryam Keshavarz's Circumstance has won Sundance Film Festival-Audience Award. This is not wonderful. The horrible picture Maryam Keshavarz present to them, has to be awarded. However, Western film festivals should be more prudent in making judgments. Maybe sometimes people exploit plight of people to get famous. And, the evaluative nature of refereeing process in these festivals also should be considered. Actually, I don't think most of these prizes have any value.

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