Women Without Men / Looking for Oum Kulthum

Friday, Sep 23, 2022 - 7:30pm to 10:00pm
woman in purple dress on stage in front ot microphone in dimly lit club

UCLA Film & Television Archive presents free screenings at the Billy Wilder Theater at the Hammer Museum.

Please review our required COVID-19 precautions and updated admission policies.


Women Without Men

Germany/Austria/France/Italy/Ukraine/Morocco/Iran, 2009

Women without Men follows the lives of four women over the course of the turbulent, American-backed overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953. Though they each inhabit different strata of Iranian society—a general’s wife, a prostitute, a religious adherent and a rebellious sister—they each experience the personal trauma of patriarchal domination against a backdrop of sweeping historical change. Much more than an account of suffering, the film depicts the power of refuge and dignity in their lives, as it shifts elegiacally between historical reality and metaphoric vision. For bringing her sharp and striking visual sensibilities to this adaptation of Shahrnoush Parsipour’s novella, Shirin Neshat won the Venice Film Festival Silver Lion for best directing in 2009 for this, her feature film debut.

DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 89 min. Directors: Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari. Screenwriter: Shoja Azari, Shirin Neshat. With: Shabnam Toloui, Pegah Ferydoni, Arita Shahrzad.

Looking for Oum Kulthum

Germany/Austria/Italy/Morocco/Qatar/Lebanon/France, 2017

Legendary singer and Egyptian national hero Oum Kulthum, whose impassioned voice was a beacon of hope for the Arab world for generations, is at the center of Shirin Neshat’s exploration of artistic interpretation and who gets to tell who’s story. Neda Rahmanian plays Mitra, an Iranian-born filmmaker shooting a biopic on Kulthum whose credentials to interpret her life are challenged at every turn on cultural and political grounds—attacks frequently fueled by straight up misogyny. Mitra’s struggle to define her art on her own terms—while managing her fracturing personal life—mirrors Kulthum’s own journey to stardom, depicted in sumptuously produced, film-within-a-film scenes with the captivating Yasmin Raeis as the iconic singer. Recreating a number of Kulthum’s major live performances, the film brims with music and ideas, passionately lived.

DCP, color, in Persian with English subtitles, 90 min. Directors: Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari. Screenwriters: Shoja Azari, Ahmad Diba, Shirin Neshat. With: Neda Rahmanian, Yasmin Raeis, Mehdi Moinzadeh.


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