Divorce Iranian Style

Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini directed this documentary about divorce in Iran, where a man is free to leave his wife but a woman needs either her husband’s permission or proof that he’s insane or sterile. The film’s image of contemporary Iranian women clashes with Western stereotypes: despite their legal handicaps, the women we see here are angry, aggressive, and resourceful. Longinotto (an English documentarian) and Mir-Hosseini (a divorced Iranian anthropologist based in London) make their feminist bias clear from the outset, and their periodic involvement in the court proceedings adds to the interest. This Iranian-British coproduction is a rare example of a successful documentary in the mode of Frederick Wiseman made outside the United States; it’s clearly been facilitated by the recent liberalization of the Iranian government. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, January 8, 6:00; Saturday, January 9, 4:00 and 7:45; and Sunday, January 10, 8:00; 312-443-3737.

–Jonathan Rosenbaum