Questions for Marjane Satrapi

Satrapi hoped to change the way people saw her country.

ByABC News
February 22, 2008, 8:11 PM

Feb. 22, 2008— -- Author and filmmaker Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical "Persepolis" graphic novels about life in Iran after the Islamic Revolution and later in exile are international bestsellers, both translated into 24 languages.

A French language animated film version of "Persepolis" is nominated for an Academy Award in the Animated Feature category, alongside strange bedfellows "Ratatouille" and "Surf's Up." An English language version of "Persepolis," with Sean Penn, Gina Rolands, and Iggy Popp lending their voices is also planned for release.

On the eve of her big weekend, Satrapi spoke to ABC News about her work and what it was like to make her first film.

ABC News: Why did you want to tell this story and what did you want to tell people with it?

Satrapi: I have said this story all my life. I kept on saying the story over and over because I saw so many misunderstandings, so many misjudgments about Iran, so many things that were so far from reality. In 1999 after four years of having left Iran I had enough distance and less anger and it was the right time for me to write the story. In a very surprising way many people found themselves in this story. Many people found that it was part of their own life, which is extremely magical for me because it was from the beginning a very, very personal story.

ABC News: You've said that you didn't want people to think of Iranians as an abstract concept?

Satrapi: Absolutely. We are reduced to some abstract notion, when you call a whole country "axis of evil," or fanatics, or terrorists or whatever, after a while people forget that these are people you are talking about, they are human beings. My point of view when I make a book or I make a movie is to see the humanistic point of view. The point of view of the daily life of normal people.

ABC News: People see a compelling story of women in struggle in your work, but you object to being called a feminist?

Satrapi: I am absolutely not a feminist, I am against stupidity, and if it comes from males or females it doesn't change anything. If it means that women and men, they are equal, then OK, certainly I am a feminist. It happens that I am a woman, so it becomes a "woman coming of age story." I think if I was a man it wouldn't change so much, they never call it a "man coming of age story." It is a human coming of age story, let's go for the humanity and humanism, it's a much better thing than this "womanhood" and "manhood" and I don't know "hermaphrodite-hood, and etc., etc.