The Empress and Me – Farah Diba in the eyes of an exiled Iranian Filmmaker

Nahid Persson-Sarvestani, a former activist of the student branch of the Tudeh party and in the late 70s among the demonstrators against Shah Reza Pahlevi, now lives in Sweden as a film-director. In her 3 parts documentary, she interviews Farah Diba, the last empress of Iran, who now lives in exil in Paris.

part 1

part 2

part 3

Farah Diba speaks with a broken voice, and Nahid Persson, although with a politically active background, seems to be more interested in the private life of the Shahs widow. The Shahbanou, however, is a professional when it comes to any media contacts. She only repeats the details of her life with the Shah, how they first met, how Reza Pahlevi asked her to become his wife – stories, she already told too often to be published in the yellow press. Sometimes, Farah Diba tries to shift the conversation more into a political and historical context, asking Mrs. Nahid Persson-Sarvestani on which side she was on during the 1979 revolution, the communists Tudeh people, or the peoples Mudjaheddin, or the violent islamists of the Fedajin. Persson apparently fears a clear confession at this point, since the blunt anti-Shah activities she was involved in prepared the ground for the most inhuman, hypocrite and stupid regimes ever seen in recent history: the so-called “Islamic Republic of Iran”.
So these two woman who 35 years ago were on opposite sites of the battle line in pre-revolutionary Iran, now find them self in exile, one in Paris the other in Stockholm, and both see with bitterness their lost dreams. If the two would be ready to give up their wounded pride, maybe they would find out how much in common they had in their youth. Both were dreaming of a modern and liberal society, with secular education, open to the rest of the world, liberated woman and social and economic prosperity. But each of the two, the aristocrats and the socialist, both were wrestling for leadership in this movement. And both were loosing everything. What arose after the Shah and his family had to leave in 1979, and the Tudeh for a short moment thought their triumph is in sight, was the worst nightmare of an extreme conservative, religious, anachronistic and brutal dictatorship of uneducated and corrupt Mullahs.
The people of Iran have to suffer since 34 years under a totalitarian regime, that tortures, rapes, kills everybody who is not following its islamic hypocrisis and dares to question the political regime of the mullahs with their basidj thugs.
It would have been nice to see in the documentary that both, Farah Diba and Mrs. Nahid Persson-Sarvestani would finally admit that the two blocks they belonged to, the progressive Tudeh party and the Shahs court, did a historical mistake by not finding a way to cooperate and anticipate how much their dreams had in common.

Thank you, Ninelia, for pointing me to this gem of political documentation.

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