Our Rating: ★★★★☆
L Factor: Gender Bender
Short Take: A young woman passes as a boy to support her family in remote Iran. A fellow worker at the carpet shop falls in love with her.
Alternate Titles: Dakhtaran-e khorshid
Year: 2000
Duration: 93 min
Language: Iran/Farsi
MPAA: Not Rated
Director: Maryam Shahriar
Writer: Maryam Shahriar
Starring: Altinay Ghelich Taghani, Soghra Karimi, Zahra Mohammadi, Habib Haddad

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Daughters of the SunStark, harsh, lonely, isolated, bleak … these are the words that immediately come to mind when viewing this film, which is at its core about the oppressive lives of women in Iran. It’s been called Iran’s first lesbian film, but writer/director Maryam Shahriar was forced by Iranian censors to remove all of the ‘touching’ scenes.

Amangol (Altinay Ghelich Taghani) is the eldest daughter in a poor rural family. To help support them, she shaves her head and begins work as a boy (Aman) in an isolated carpet weaving shop. The girls who work there are beaten by the owner, as is Aman, toiling at the loom until their hands bleed. As a male apprentice, he supervises the girls and lives in the shop, locked in and isolated.

Belghies (Soghra Karimi) sits on the bench next to Aman and dreads her upcoming arranged marriage to a 60 year old man. She falls in love with the sweet boy who rarely talks, dreaming about running away together. Aman savors their brief contact and gives hope to a young woman living a hard, lonely life.

Surrounded by severe rural landscapes, this young love could never be allowed to flourish. Tragedy strikes, although Aman is a survivor with a self confidence of few other women in the cruel world portrayed here. The next time you see a hand woven Persian rug, the film will also leave you wondering about the exploited labor that may have produced it. (AB)