Saideh Pakravan,

These are the thoughts that came to me watching the Arte TV channel presentation of a documentary, “Born in Evin” by German-Iranian director Maryam Zaree.The story is that of a quest so many people, no matter race, creed or country, go through at some point or other: who am I, where do I come from, what’s my story? There are so many narratives, so many pasts, so many ways to have lived through it and to relive it, that the process often remains interesting and even banal accounts can offer at least some nuggets that make us more aware, wiser perhaps, able to identify on some level with the story teller.

In this particular case, the director goes way back, to her birth in an Iranian prison in the Islamic Republic of Iran some thirty-nine years ago, when her parents were arrested because of their anti-regime activities. Later, Maryam Zaree and her mother emigrated to Germany where she was brought up but the past never ceased to intrigue and perhaps even haunt her, until, with the help of her mother and others, she reconstructs those times and what followed. It’s an interesting story, and also one rather different from the myriad ones told and retold ad nauseam by refugees and exiles in memoirs, films, novels.

Never mind that in this kind of narrative, after a while, no matter how original the material, things always become repetitive as we’ve turned the page of that book once too often. What bothers me more is the mental CGI. Much like the makeover apps allowing Chinese teenagers to enhance face and body for their social media followers, everyone who tells a story needs to make it stronger, prettier, more relatable.

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