Born in Evin
"Born in Evin brings nuance to the migrant experience. It reminds us of the importance of sharing history, no matter how painful, through generations. Only through shared knowledge can one truly understand their heritage." – In the Seats
"A brave and tenacious directorial debut that offers a positive people-focused consideration of the trauma of the past." – Eye for Film
"[Zaree] doesn't arrive at clear-cut answers but instead comes to a realization that displaces her from the center of her story. – The New York Times
- German Film Awards *Best Documentary*
- Berlin International Film Festival
- Hot Docs
A disturbing and personal investigation of the horrors of the Iranian theocratic regime, this globe-trotting documentary exposes the lingering mental anguish of past trauma and the difficulty of bringing it to light.
In 1979, after years of chafing under the cruel polices of the Shah, the people of Iran overthrew their hated leader. Yet the replacement government, a theocracy headed by Ayatollah Khomeini, was in many ways worse than the one it replaced, radically transforming the country and restricting personal freedoms. Numerous revolutionaries who had supported the deposition of the Shah but who had opposed an Islamist government were subsequently imprisoned and tortured. Eventually, many of these idealistic Iranians escaped their country and found new lives for themselves scattered around the globe.
Born in Evin focuses on Maryam, the daughter of a pair of former revolutionaries who fled Iran and settled in Germany. As the film’s title makes clear, Maryam was born in Evin, the notorious prison in Tehran where political prisoners were interrogated after the revolution. Yet Maryam knows close to nothing about her early years in this environment, learning the fact that she was born in a prison only as an adolescent. Stonewalled by her mother who resists dredging up the past and unable to learn the full truth from her father, who was separated from her mother in the prison due to gendered segregation, Maryam takes it upon herself to try to learn her and her family’s story from a variety of sources. Visiting friends, relatives, and strangers, she interviews people in Paris and London, goes to a conference in Florence, and even goes to the Iranian war crimes tribunal at the Hague. In all these places, she finds little to sate her appetite for information about her own history but much about those who experienced the prison firsthand, who share stories of torture and executions, but also of courage, generosity, and solidarity in the face of such atrocities.
Ultimately, Maryam is able to at last find those similar to her: Iranian expats who were born or raised in Evin. With these contacts, she is able to recreate what such an experience must have been like. While her repressed trauma isn’t completely eradicated, she is able to finally feel at peace with her mysterious childhood and connect with her mother over those disturbing years. Born in Evin, while never fully revealing the past, points towards the future and its capability to heal.
95 Minutes | German, English, French, Persian with English subtitles.
Directed by Maryam Zaree
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