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Movie Review | Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free Directed by Dawn Gifford Engle  by Dawn Gifford Engle

Anubhav Chakraborty

January 18, 2023 4 min read

Movie : Shirin Ebadi: Until We Are Free

Director : Dawn Gifford Engle 


” If we all packed our suitcases and boarded planes, what would be left of our country? If we bowed our heads and stayed quietly at home, permitting them to say that Islam allowed the assassination of writers and the execution of teenagers, what would be left of our faith?”


Shirin Ebadi, Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran is the heroic tale of a person who did not know about the existence of fear. It is a tale about an Icarus like ambition, a zeal to rewrite history in words without the burden of prejudices and trepidations. 

The movie enlightens the audience about the inextinguishable power of truth. Gyrating around a relentless kind of will power, Shirin Ibadi sheds light on a purpose that appeared oblivious to generations before. It is a story of an ordinary person doing extraordinary things. Against an oppressive regime perpetually inflicting atrocities , she became the voice for the voiceless and the face for the faceless. Finally the nightingale’s long forgotten song could be heard in a domain of despair. 

The film reminds us how the bioscope can be seen a medium inducing hope and inspiration in the minds of dejected individuals. It makes them want to dream once again. 


Defeat and giving up are not expressions in the dictionary of Shirin Ibadi. They are but white noise incessantly impeding mankind from realising their true selves and embracing them wholeheartedly. On a greater scale the movie highlights the human endeavour to resist ,fight and eventually look in the eye of injustice. To remind history that it has not been forgotten, it shall never be forgotten. 

The trajectory of Shirin Ibadi might take many bibliophiles back to the character of Maurya in JM Synge’s Riders to the sea. Shirin Ibadi has outlived the fear of death like Maurya making it almost impossible for anyone to rattle her an iota. This is about her courage to side with the truth. One cannot help but be reminded of people like Malala Yousufzai and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Souls who did not bat an eyelid when they confronted terror. 

The story of Shirin Ibadi proves to be a strong case for the believers who are convinced that there exists a Shirin everywhere. When there is a dearth of hope , Shirin would rise like a phoenix representing the ones dumped in the backyards never allowed to speak, express or exist. 

Like Maya Angelou, Shirin Ibadi can hear the shrieks of the caged birds around her. She can hear their tales of contrition. How they long to see light at the end of the tunnel! How they long to see a new day! Her fight through the countless days and nights, her struggle, her determination and her resistance shall never be forgotten. Her tale of resilience shall be heard by everyone over the ears and the movie is a testament to that. 

The myriad chronicles of Shirin Ibadi must not be remembered merely as events but as movements towards the brighter side of existence. A side without repugnant tendencies. A side where reason has not lost itself around ignorance. A side which truly defines the human factor. Her fights and her struggles should be read as tales of courage when someone looked in the eye of oppression and dared to look the other way past it. However the fight for humanity never ceases to exist. There would be forces acting against love, reason, passion and ambition. It is at that moment when one remember the brave Shirin Ibadi. It is at that moment when they shall live to fight on, to see another day, perhaps a better and a brighter day. As Maya Angelou believed:


“…for the caged bird   


sings of freedom.”




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