According to an Iranian specialist on sex change operations, "if Iran is a paradise for transsexuals, it's because of the good support of the authorities." Because the Koran doesn't say anything on the subject, transsexuality isn't forbidden in Iran and transsexuals don't have to fear prosecution. Ayatollah Khomeini even granted religious permission for people to get sex change operations. All the same, transsexuals in Iran do not make a habit of broadcasting the fact that they feel awkward in their bodies.
The Birthday follows a young man in his process of becoming a woman through a transsexual operation in Iran, up to and beyond his operation. We meet his boyfriend, other transsexuals (among them, a woman becoming a man), the doctors, a priest and especially his family. All of them are religious, all of them are changing lives, but why would a 'free' man choose to become a woman and lead a veiled life from now on? A portrait of schizophrenic lives in a schizophrenic environment.
Showtime Annual Vanguard Award, New Fest, New York (2007)
3000 Euros, Human rights Award, Tenerife film festival (2007)
Honorary Diploma, Documenta Madrid Film Festival (2007)
Honorary Diploma Mexico Film festival (2007)
Jury award for best documentary, JAX/Florida (2008)
For most young Iranians, Tehran is a frustrating place to live. The press is censored, boys and girls are often separated and everything that has to do with sex is taboo.
With sixty percent of the population under the age of thirty, authorities are getting more aware of the problems young people face. Sighe, a temporary marriage for between 1 hour and 99 years, could be a way to release some of the frustrations and give young people some room in this country where extra-marital sex remains out of the question.. Even though some influential people try to promote temporary marriages, the issue has triggered heated debates, as many see it as legalized prostitution.
In 1 hour – 99 years we follow two young people who have entered into a temporary marriage. Both Sahab and Maryam are surprisingly open and honest about the topic and show us the pros and cons. A heated discussion between Sahab and his mother illustrates there are very different views on the issue, even within one family. While Sahab believes Sighe is a good opportunity for young people and more important the act matches his religious viewpoints, his mother finds it a hypocritical and unacceptable practice. Maryam, a divorced woman with a young son, shows that doing a temporary marriage is sometimes the only way to stay off the street in this country where there is hardly any social support system.
We meet a popular Mullah in the Southern suburbs of Tehran who legalizes temporary marriages, and a matchmaker in Iran’s religious centre Qom. 1 hour – 99 years gives an intriguing insight into the lives of people in this young, frustrated and confused society and the way old religious practices like Sighe are being used in an attempt to solve contemporary problems.
6000 Euros, TV production Awards - RNTC
Negin Kianfar’s latest documentary follows an elderly Iranian couple in their nineties keen on environment protection, as they try to clean up Tehran. Deeply concerned with the environment they live in, they begin a non-government organization to protect their city. In the busy and overcrowded Iranian capital, they start by helping the council educate people in recycling. Not too many people are interested in what they have started but nevertheless they keep on organizing seminars in Tehran University, even if only 5 people join. After decades of determination and hard work, Eve and Adam finally see their efforts begin to make a difference.