Archives / 2009 Sundance Film Festival

The Queen and I

Director: Nahid Persson Sarvestani

Screenwriters: Zinat S. Lloyd, Nahid Persson Sarvestani

Institute History

  • 2009 Sundance Film Festival

Description

When Nahid Persson Sarvestani, an Iranian exile, set out to make a documentary about Farrah, the wife of the shah of Iran, she expected to encounter her opposite. As a child, Persson Sarvestani had lived in dire poverty, watching Farrah’s wedding as if it were a fairy tale. As a teenager, she joined the Communist faction of Khomeini’s revolution that deposed the shah, sending him and his family volleying from country to country. When Khomeini betrayed his promise for democracy, imposing more violent measures than the shah had, Persson Sarvestani was also forced to flee. Thirty years later, she needs key questions answered and goes directly to the source. Surprisingly, Queen Farrah welcomes her as a fellow refugee from their beloved homeland, granting unprecedented access. Over the next year and a half, Persson Sarvestani enters the queen’s world, planning to challenge the shah’s ideology; instead, she must rethink her own.

When Persson Sarvestani’s prior opposition to the shah surfaces, the queen shuts down filming. Yet, in the struggle to understand each other’s experiences, an unlikely friendship has blossomed. Confronting Farrah about the shah’s repression has become not only a political conflict but a personal one, and Persson Sarvestani’s objectivity is shaken.

In this gripping, poignant consideration of subjectivity as truth, we learn that people write history. And can also heal it. The Queen and I couldn’t be more relevant as we reach across our own political aisles.

— Caroline Libresco

Screening Details

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