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Satrapi at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival
22 November 1969|
|Nationality||French and Iranian|
|Area(s)||Artist and writer|
Satrapi was born in Rasht, Iran. She grew up in Tehran in a middle-class Iranian family. Both her parents were politically active and supported Marxist causes against the monarchy of the last Shah. When the Iranian Revolution took place in 1979, they were dismayed and intimidated by the Muslim fundamentalists who took power.
During her youth, Marjane was constantly exposed to the growing brutalities of the various regimes. She witnessed many family friends being persecuted, arrested, and even murdered. She found a hero in her paternal uncle, Anoosh, who had been a political prisoner and lived in exile in the Soviet Union for a time. Young Marjane greatly admired her uncle, and he in turn doted on her, treating her as if she was his own daughter. Tragically, as detailed in Satrapi's autobiography, Anoosh was arrested again and executed; his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the prison. Anoosh was only allowed one visitor before his execution, and he requested Marjane. The loss of her uncle left her deeply upset. As a young teen, Marjane began to act out, getting into trouble with the police for breaking modesty codes and buying music banned by the regime.
Her parents grew concerned that the young Marjane, a strong-willed and rambunctious teenager, would run afoul of the strict new public codes for women. They arranged for her to study abroad, and in 1983 she arrived in Vienna, Austria to attend the Lycée Français de Vienne. According to her autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis, she stayed in Vienna through her high-school years, staying in friends' homes, but spent three months living on the streets. After an almost deadly bout of pneumonia, she returned to Iran. She studied visual communication, eventually obtaining a master's degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran.
During this time, Satrapi went to numerous illegal parties hosted by her friends, where she met a man named Reza, a veteran of the Iran–Iraq War. She married him at the age of 21, but they divorced a couple of years later. Satrapi then moved to Strasbourg, France.
Satrapi became famous worldwide because of her critically acclaimed autobiographical graphic novels, originally published in French in four parts in 2000–2003 and in English translation in two parts in 2003 and 2004, respectively, as Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which describe her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. Persepolis won the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Her later publication, Embroideries (Broderies), was also nominated for the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003, an award that was won by her novel Chicken with Plums (Poulet aux prunes). She has also contributed to the Op-Ed section of The New York Times.
Satrapi prefers the term "comic books" to "graphic novels." "People are so afraid to say the word 'comic'," she told the Guardian newspaper in 2011. "It makes you think of a grown man with pimples, a ponytail and a big belly. Change it to 'graphic novel' and that disappears. No: it's all comics."
Persepolis was adapted into an animated film of the same name. It debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in May 2007 and shared a Special Jury Prize with Silent Light (Luz silenciosa) by Carlos Reygadas. Co-written and co-directed by Satrapi and director Vincent Paronnaud, the French-language picture stars the voices of Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, and Simon Abkarian. The English version, starring the voices of Gena Rowlands, Sean Penn, and Iggy Pop, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in January 2008. With this, she became the first woman to be nominated for the award.
Persepolis was a very successful film both commercially (with over a million admissions in France alone) as well as critically, winning the Best First Film at the César Awards 2008. As such the film reflects many tendencies of first-time filmmaking in France (which makes up around 40% of all French cinema each year), notably in its focus on very intimate rites-of-passage, and quite ambivalently recounted coming-of-age moments.
Satrapi and Paronnaud continued their successful collaboration with a second film, a live-action adaptation of Chicken with Plums, released in late 2011. A year later, in 2012, Satrapi directed and acted in the comedy crime film Gang of the Jotas, from her own screenplay.
Following the Iranian elections in June 2009, Marjane Satrapi and Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf appeared before Green Party members in the European Parliament to present a document allegedly received from a member of the Iranian electoral commission claiming that the reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi had actually won the election, and that the conservative incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had received only 12% of the vote.
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