Patience Stone

This is from Toronto Film Festival in 2012

The Patience Stone was the movie in Toronto that two separate women told me I needed to see. And boy was it worth it. It is basically a monologue performed brilliantly by Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani to her husband who is lying in a coma after being injured in war. The woman is unnamed, as is the country, and she is a symbol of all women who are forced to marry young, bear children, and deal with men fighting and killing each other. She symbolizes the women whose own hopes and dreams are sublimated due to circumstances and restrictions placed on them just because they are women. They long for love and long for life but live with duty and in fear. It is a beautiful lament on the need for peace.

The movie is ow in theatres in NY, and Women and Hollywood spoke with leading lady Golshifteh Farahani about the film.

Women and Hollywood: Can you tell me about what drew you to this role?

Golshifteh Farahani: Before reading the film script, I had read the book a few years before like in 2009. As an actress, I thought, of course, I have to play this part. This is a woman fighting for her individuality. She has so many contradiction and so many contrasts. I really wanted to understand all that feeling and I wanted to understand it to play it well.

WaH: It is not a conventional movie. There are very few words. It feels poetic and you are simply the entire movie. How hard was it to have all of this on your shoulders?

GF: That is the reason that I was motivated to do this part. But, it was very difficult because of course, it is, not a monologue, but dialogue with herself and the universe. The partner is mostly not there. I saw the camera as my partner. I needed something as my partner and I was alone with this camera. The amount of monologue is enormous. I had to learn 30-40 pages in a language which was not my mother tongue. French and Italian are close, but they are different. It was difficult, but it was also great.

WaH: She feels to me like an everywoman--women who live in these war torn countries, women who don't have as many rights as men, she is a very kind of symbolic character. Do you agree with that?

GF: As a symbol of a woman, I would agree. But, she is not an Afghani woman. Yes, it's really true that we all have something in common with this woman. That's what makes it international and that's what makes it a symbol of all women. We all have stories to tell and secrets. Or fear sometimes, especially in societies with a huge pressure of religion on the society. There are many places like that and we have so much in common with that woman. We have the same sexual problems, like sexual pleasure. This woman for the first times realizes that she can have the sexual pleasure. Her body is not just for suffering, but also for pleasure. She starts to understand herself and become mature. She is true to her soul and her mind and her body, which she had ignored before.

WaH: You worked in Iran? Is that your home country?

GF: I was born there, but I don't live there anymore.

WaH: You worked there for many years as an actress, correct?

GF: Yes.

WaH: Now, you can't live there or work there because of some of the work that you've done. Am I right in that understanding?

GF: Yes, exactly. I've been living outside of Iran for five years and I don't know if I can go back now. Of course everyone can, but I don't know what the circumstance would be.

WaH: Is your family safe? Are there any issues related to that?

GF: No. My family is all back there. But, all my problems started when we released Body of Lies. When I went back to Iran, the authorities wanted to know about it. The film is set against the backdrop of the CIA and the corporations. As a woman, it became impossible to work there or live there.

WaH: I saw that you had a film in the US recently with Sienna Miller called Just Like a Woman. Did you make that awhile ago?

GF: I made that before The Patience Stone. That was two years ago.

WaH: Are you making mostly movies with western directors now?

GF: Yes. I'm with French directors. I'm working with Jon Stewart of The Daily Show on his movie. I'm working with actors like Gael Garcia Bernal. I'm working with actors all over the planet. I really like working with them.

WaH: This is a moment in our history where things are happening in the Arab world for women. They are active parts of these revolutions. When the new governments come in, women are not getting as many rights as they had hoped. Do you feel that the character in this movie, though it is set in Afghanistan, is a parable for what women are going through now?

GF: Yes, but the book was written before the Arab Spring. This problem of women, this horrible pressure from the regime and society on women, I think that this problem will go on. Nothing is going to change until women and men are equal. It is a problem that has been going on for centuries. Everywhere, they are fighting to get out of it. But, there has been 1,000 years of trying to control women and people are trying to change it. It has been started and that makes me happy.

WaH: What do you want people to be thinking about when they come out of your movie?

GF: I would love if they experience a moment that opens a new door in their lives that never existed before. If they would have a great moment of truth, being joyful even if they are suffering. It just takes a moment of truth and truth is the only beautiful and holy thing, I think. So, just a moment lets you know it exists.

The Patience Stone is in limited release.