10 May 2006

Border Cafe

Speaking of dependent-independent women, the 2005 Iranian film Border Café tells the story of Reyhan, a new widow with two daughters who finds herself unwilling to marry her brother-in-law (becoming his second wife) as local tradition demands. She is from another part of the country, and anyway has a distaste for dependence.

The film tracks her struggle to maintain independence from her insistent brother-in-law in the face of family disapproval. Eventually she reopens her husband's roadside café and makes a success of it, but her brother-in-law's jealousy (he owns a restaurant elsewhere on the road) and sense of "honor" drive him to get her café shut down.

We get a grim picture of the difficulty of struggling against rigid social conventions, but also see the possibility of succeeding. A restaurant cook may seem an unlikely hero, but Reyhan's struggle to sustain herself and her children independently is nothing if not heroic.

Border Cafe is presented as part of Cinema/Chicago's Global Lens series.

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