Meet the Woman Behind 'Persepolis'

Marjane Satrapi felt the complex story of her country, Iran, wasn't being told. She was compelled to write a memoir about growing up in Tehran during the Islamic revolution and show others that Iranians are not monsters. They are just people.

"When you call a whole country the axis of evil or fanatic terrorists or whatever ... after a while, people -- they forget that these people you are actually talking about are human beings," Satrapi said.

Though she refers to her story as simply a "life story," her memoir, "Persepolis," was a bit unconventional, because it is a comic.

"My way of expressing myself is with images and words," Satrapi explained. "I made comics because I didn't have any other way."

"Persepolis," which in Greek means city of Persia (today's Iran), was translated into 24 languages and became an international best-seller.

Hollywood came clamoring for the movie rights. Satrapi told Hollywood "no" and decided to make the movie herself.

"It is a very personal story. It's my point of view," she said. "It is a description of the way that I saw the things. When you write a story like that, you have some responsibility. Either I had to do it myself or it should not have been done."

Satrapi, who now lives in France, wrote and directed the movie, though she had no experience in filmmaking. And film legend Catherine Deneuve, a fan of her books, agreed to play her mother.

"For the movie, it was really a deliberate choice that we made ... making an animation," said Satrapi. "The plus of an animation is that since it's drawing -- a drawing is something extremely abstract. And it's extremely easy for anybody to relate to a drawing."

And those drawings were all done by hand, which is unusual in a world of computer-generated animation.

"Persepolis" has become an international hit, winning accolades and dozens of awards. Just tonight, it won two Cesars … the Oscars of France.

And this Sunday, Satrapi will find out if she has won the Oscar for best-animated feature. But is it really enough just to be nominated?

"If you asked me this question two weeks ago, I would have told you, 'We are nominated, it's great, I've already won, et cetera et cetera,'" she said. "But to tell you the truth, now I am here, now I want to win."

Though she admits she already has, in a case of life imitating art. On the Iranian black market, where Satrapi used to buy contraband American rock 'n' roll, her movie is now available.

"The value of the family in the Iranian culture has a very big value," she said, "and this movie is also a love letter that not only I send to Iran but also to my family, but also to all who believe in humanity."

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: North Conway teen, Abigail Hernandez, has been missing for two months.
Conway Police Department/AP Photo|www.bringabbyhome.com
Shirley MacLaine Selling Retreat in Mexico
Zillow | Inset: Carlos R. Alvarez/Getty Images