Beginnings: Marjane Satrapi

The Iranian Director and Graphic Novelist Reflects On Her Early Influences

Oscar-nominated filmmaker Marjane Satrapi relates memories of her childhood growing up amid Iran's turmoils and her artistic family in today’s film by Chiara Clemente. Shot in Satrapi’s colorful studio in the Marais district of Paris, the short is a new chapter in Clemente’s Beginnings series for the Sundance Channel in which cultural icons reveal the experiences that set them on their paths. “Marjane has such strength to her personality and creative vision,” says Clemente. “She explodes when you talk with her, everything is so alive.” Satrapi’s graphic novel series Persepolis—which she adapted into a 2008 Oscar-nominated film—traced her life as a rebellious child growing up in Tehran, through the overthrow of the Shah and later under a brutally restrictive Islamic Republic. The teenager’s (illegal) collection of Iggy Pop and Iron Maiden tapes, her outspoken political views and reluctance to wear a veil, lead her left-wing intellectual parents to dispatch her to Vienna aged 14 for her own safety. “Marjane told us stories of her parents returning from travels with these forbidden things—a denim jacket, a Michael Jackson pin or Batman comics––and her obsession with them,” says Clemente. Last year Satrapi released a feature film adaption of her graphic novel Chicken with Plums, which chronicles the final week in the life of her great-uncle, starring Mathieu Amalric.

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