Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free
Director: Dawn Gifford Engle | Duration: 81 mins | Country: United States
An insightful look into the life of an inspirational icon
Films of varying shapes and forms have often sought to bring stories of human courage and resilience to the forefront. While there are numerous documentaries that focus on inspirational figures from culture and history who have rebelled against an unjust regime and sacrificed self for the good of others, director Dawn Gifford Engle's invigorating documentary Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free stands firmly on its own two feet by presenting an unbiased and deeply insightful look into the life and mind of its phenomenal protagonist and an unabashed foray into the muddy political history of a nation.
For the uninitiated, the 81 mins long film delves into the life of Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Shirin has spent years fighting against the oppressive and regressive practices of the Iranian leadership and continues to pay a heavy price for the same. The film celebrates her resilience while also serving as an important lesson in the history of the political landscape of Persia (now Iran).
Technically, the film is well crafted with Dawn striking the right balance between providing meaningful information and keeping things interesting through some fine editing, excellent cinematography and some gorgeous hand drawn animation. The narration (also by Dawn Gifford Engle) is crisp and on point without ever hampering the proceedings through over emphasis or over dramatization. The film, as a whole, is quite self-aware of the fact that Shirin's unfiltered life story does not need any bells or whistles to move the viewer. Just like some of the best documentary filmmakers, Dawn knows when to focus the attention on a particular narrative thread and when to step away and let the story speak for itself. The one small gripe we have is with the mixing of the background score. While the score itself is serviceable, there a few moments where it almost begins to fight for attention by either being a bit too loud or a bit too present. A better mixing of the background score would have certainly elevated this already excellent documentary film to near perfection.
All in all, Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free is an important and impactful film that puts the spotlight on a woman who never yearned for it but rightfully deserves it. The film excels in making a defiant statement against oppression and offers a glimmer of hope to all those continue to fight for equality and justice for all.
The film is currently playing in film festivals worldwide.