Global and Iranian history are both closely intertwined with the lives and destinies of prominent figures. Every one of them has laid a brick on history’s wall, sometimes paying the price with their lives, men and women alike. Women have been especially influential in the past 200 years, writing much of contemporary Iranian history.
In Iran, women have increased public awareness about gender discrimination, raised the profile of and improved women’s rights, fought for literacy among women, and promoted the social status of women by counteracting religious pressures, participating in scientific projects, being involved in politics, influencing music, cinema… And so the list goes on.
This series aims to celebrate these renowned and respected Iranian women. They are women who represent the millions of women that influence their families and societies on a daily basis. Not all of the people profiled in the series are endorsed by IranWire, but their influence and impact cannot be overlooked. The articles are biographical stories that consider the lives of influential women in Iran.
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Katayoon Shahabi has achieved something that is the envy of almost every Iranian film producer. In 2012, “A Separation,” a film that her own company produced, won an Oscar for “Best Foreign Language Film.” But this is far from her only achievement. Katayoon is also CEO of the first private Iranian company to distribute Iranian-made movies and documentaries around the world.
Born in 1968, Katayoon has a Ph.D. in French literature. And it was in 1984 that she started working as a film promoter at the Farabi Cinema Foundation (FCF), which was set up to support the Iranian film business.
Then in 2001, she founded her own company - Scheherazade Media International (SMI) - that very quickly came to dominate the industry for the distribution of Iranian films. SMI has also introduced other acclaimed Iranian directors like Rakhshan Bani-Etemad, Mohammad Rasoulof, Mania Akbari and Saman Salour to international audiences.
Later in 2010, Katayoon became an Executive Board Member on the Documentary and Fiction Producers Guild, which in turn also nominated her as the 2010 “Model Exporter of Iranian cultural products.” Since then, she has continued to introduce a new director or two every year by producing their works.
Many of her film productions are documentaries, one of which got her into trouble with the Iranian security forces and judiciary. On September 17, 2011, Katayoon and six of her colleagues were arrested on charges of “spying for the BBC Persian Service.” The authorities claimed that the documentaries aired by the BBC were illegal and painted “a black picture of Iran and Iranians.” The seven employees were taken to Ward 240 of Evin Prison, which is run by the Intelligence Ministry.
The arrests led to international protests. After 54 days in jail, Katayoon Shahabi was released on bail.
Katayoon’s latest film production was “Nahid,” which is a debut piece by female Iranian film director Ida Panahandeh. This was awarded the “Un Certain Regard” award for upcoming directors at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Also in the series:
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