Scenes From a Set

Posted on October 10, 2008 by Alexandra Avakian

An actress on a movie set on Kish Island, Iran

This picture was taken on a movie set on Kish Island, Iran, in the Persian Gulf. The Islamic Republic was using Kish as a social testing ground for mild liberalization at that time.

The director was the dissident Bahram Beyzaii. This is his wife, actress Mozhdeh Shamsai . I was fascinated with how actresses navigated Islamic rules. When I visited her during her preparation for a play in Tehran, she donned a wig instead of the customary headscarf to comply with the law against showing one’s real hair. For her costume people, attention to covering her wrists was important so as not to break the law by revealing too much, thereby risking the production being shut down. The makeup artist was a man who begged me not to photograph him touching this actress as he applied makeup, as it would have brought scandal upon them. My mother is an actress and my father and stepfather are film and theater directors, so I grew up backstage and on movie sets. I felt very at home in this milieu and was attuned to the restrictions artists have to face in Iran.

Filed Under: BooksIranPhotography

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