Tahmineh Milani's "The Fifth
An Iranian Woman Fighting for Her Rights
Five women sit in a restaurant
in Tehran and talk about their husbands and their marriages. First, the
conversations are quite amusing, but later on we notice that each woman
faces serious problems below the thin surface of legal rights granted to
women in Iran.
Then the story centres on
Fereshteh, a young teacher who has just lost her husband. According to
tradition, she has to live with her children in the house of her
father-in-law, a traditionally minded man. Hence he sees the only
possibility for Fereshteh in her marrying the younger brother of her late
husband. She refuses and since she is afraid never being able to see her
sons again, she embarks on a quest for freedom and independence across the
country with her sons.
The film debates serious
problems of women's rights in Iran, then switches into an exciting
action-movie-tone, which is sometimes amusing, sometimes sad. Besides that
escape through Iran, logistically backed by the four other women from the
beginning, we learn about different views on Iranian society. Even the
macho-style father-in-law (in the beginning of the film he sees himself as
"the bill") is not completely without second thoughts in the end.
Tahmineh Milani worked from a very young age as an assistant in the film
studios. Her first film was "Children of Divorce" (1989). "Two Women" (1999)
established her as one of the most renowned Iranian film directors. In
August 2001, her film "The Hidden Half" was forbidden. She was arrested by
the revolutionary tribunal of Tehran being charged for "offence against
Islam". Although condemned to death she was set free a few months later. So
she continued working as director and producer under conditions of
censorship. "The Fifth Reaction", her seventh film, was again both
successful and controversial in her country.