Germany | Austria 2019
Opening October 17, 2019
Directed by: Maryam Zaree
Writing credits: Maryam Zaree
Principal actors: Documentary
Forty years ago Iran experienced an upheaval in government and the Shah fled the country. Ayatollah Khomeini assumed control, banning and imprisoning all protestors and political adversaries. Two of these imprisoned protestors were the parents of film director Maram Zaree: her mother Nargess and her father Kasra. Nargess was in Evin Prison, where Maram was born in 1983. Two years later in 1985 Nargess was released and left Iran for Europe with her young daughter. Kasra was imprisoned for seven years. Perhaps Nargess chose Europe, because she already had a sister in Paris. Nargess, age 20, and Maram, age two, settle in Frankfurt, where Maryam grows up, completely ignorant of her unusual, early life about which she has no memories. Through her aunt, she becomes somewhat aware of her history, which remains mysterious because her mother never discusses the situation. Although she had contact with her father, her parents did not reunite and her mother remarried.
Now living in Berlin, an adult Maram began work on this, her first feature film, which held her attention for three years. However, the facts came very slowly to the surface. She attended conferences of women in Hannover and The Hague, as well as a development conference in Sweden. She meets other former prisoners and their children, who were born in the same Evin Prison, They, like her own mother, are reluctant to reveal any details. Even a few words induce deep sadness and tears. She learns that there were six rooms in the prison, with 40-60 people in each room. Her own birth was aided by other prisoners, who tried to keep her quiet.
Maram Zaree is a successful actress, having appeared in German theater, television series (such as Tatort and 4 Blocks) as well as films, including Germany’s nomination for best non-English-language Oscar Award, Systemspringer, which premiered in cinemas four weeks before Born in Evin will open. This is her first, full-length film as a director. She said, “How could I tell about events for which there are no words?” Yes, those who experienced this period of time and fled the country, remain silent. There are no words. But Maram successfully shares parts of the situation with us viewers. I learned a bit of history and, just one hour after I wrote this review, I learned about a woman living in Hamburg, who fled Iran after being imprisoned during this time. (Becky T.)