Iranian Women's Everyday Lives Through Documentary Film (55+)

The documentary is a compelling medium for showing the everyday lives of ordinary people around the world. Documentaries take us where we cannot travel, educate us about potential destinations and enable us to make connections. Through them we learn about different lifestyles and cultural traditions. Watching documentaries in our global age can help us discern “real” from “fake” news, question stereotypes and problematize exclusion in our Canadian society.

We will visit contemporary Iran as observers and guests inside the lives of several women, including an environmentally conscious rice farmer, a self-taught painter and an impoverished singer. Watching six films, we’ll explore aspects of Iranian women’s lives such as participation in the fashion industry, challenges to becoming entrepreneurs and relationships among residents of a shelter.

Note: This course involves film screenings.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

What will I learn?

We will watch and discuss documentaries from this list: 

  • Countdown: Focuses on the life of a Tehrani teenager a few weeks before she takes her university entrance exams.
  • Nesa: Depicts the life of a girl from Kermanshah, who, in spite of her family’s insistence that she should marry her suitor, wants to study and become an actress.
  • Unwelcome in Tehran: Shows the struggles of young women from provinces, who come to study in Tehran and live independently. 
  • 21 Days and Me: Examines a complicated moment in the life of a young woman who is going to decide if she wants to have a child or not.
  • Behind the Wheel of Life: A short film about a divorced mother who drives a taxi to support herself and her son.
  • Auntie Nahid: Takes a look at the life of a woman who makes a living from singing in religious ceremonies in Iran.
  • Zinat: On Special Day: Depicts the life of Zinat, a nurse from the Island of Qeshm in the south of Iran, who becomes the first woman to remove the traditional veil (Boregheh).
  • The Ladies: An eye opening glimpse into the lives of Iranian women who live on the outskirt of society.
  • Poets of love: Portrays the life of a female rice farmer, environmentalist, and social activist in a poetic way. 
  • The Song Bird: Follows four women from northern Khorasan province of Iran, as they tell the story of their lives through their relationship with music and stringed musical instruments.
  • Angels of the House: In the backstreets of one of the poor districts of Tehran, in a very small house, everyday hundreds of women spend a few hours in the shadows of a safe shelter.
  • Persian Catwalk: Follows the routine life a young woman who wishes to be a model.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Some course materials may be available online.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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