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A sneak peek at Iranian artist Shirin Neshat's award-winning movie

September 16, 2009 |  9:30 am

Take a politically charged subject -- the 1953 CIA-led coup in Iran -- and match it with a visual artist known for producing arresting and sometimes disturbing images, and you have a feature film that's a must-see in the international festival and art-house circuit.

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat has directed her first feature film, "Women without Men," which won the best director award at the Venice Film Festival. Adapted from a novella of the same name by Shirin Neshat Shahrnush Parsipur, the movie tells the story of three women from different social classes as their lives unfold against the backdrop of the CIA-led coup to reinstall the Shah.

At the movie's Venice premiere, Neshat walked the red carpet with her creative team, all of them dressed in green (the unofficial color of the Iranian protest movement following the recent elections). If anyone knows how to make a bold visual statement, it's Neshat, whose video art work has been shown in prominent museums around the world.

What's less certain, however, is Neshat's storytelling abilities. Reviews of the film have skewed slightly negative, with Variety complaining that the movie's visuals "are more successful than structure and rationale."

Check out some scenes from the movie in the above clip. Please note: some of the images in the clip are disturbing and may not be suitable for small children.

-- David Ng

Photo: Actress Arita Shahrzad, left, and director Shirin Neshat, center, walk the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival. Credit: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

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