by Darius Kadivar

Nahid Persson Sarvestani's "THE QUEEN AND I" Competes at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. A personal and Intimate Portrait of Iran's Former Empress by an Iranian Expat 30 years after the Islamic Revolution that Ousted the Monarchy and the Pahlavi Royal Family to Uncertain Exile. Category World Cinema Competition: Documentary.

  Watch Teaser of Documentary:


When Nahid Persson Sarvestani, an Iranian exile, set out to make a documentary about Farrah, the wife of the shah of Iran, she expected to encounter her opposite. As a child, Persson Sarvestani had lived in dire poverty, watching Farah’s wedding as if it were a fairy tale. As a teenager, she joined the Communist faction of Khomeini’s revolution that deposed the shah, sending him and his family volleying from country to country. When Khomeini betrayed his promise for democracy, imposing more violent measures than the shah had, Persson Sarvestani was also forced to flee. Thirty years later, she needs key questions answered and goes directly to the source. Surprisingly, Queen Farah welcomes her as a fellow refugee from their beloved homeland, granting unprecedented access. Over the next year and a half, Persson Sarvestani enters the queen’s world, planning to challenge the shah’s ideology; instead, she must rethink her own. When Persson Sarvestani’s prior opposition to the shah surfaces, the queen shuts down filming. Yet, in the struggle to understand each other’s experiences, an unlikely friendship has blossomed. Confronting Farah about the shah’s repression has become not only a political conflict but a personal one, and Persson Sarvestani’s objectivity is shaken.In this gripping, poignant consideration of subjectivity as truth, we learn that people write history. And can also heal it. The Queen and I couldn’t be more relevant as we reach across our own political aisles.


See Official Website of Film on Sundance Website Created by actor/director Robert Redford 
Nahid Persson Sarvestani - Nahid Persson Sarvestani was born and raised in Iran. In Sweden, she began formalized study of television and film production and in 2003 attended Dramatiska Institutet. She has made films in Iran under dangerous conditions, among them Prostitution Behind the Veil, an Emmy-nominated documentary for which the Iranian authorities detained her for more than three months. This and other films have made Sarvestani the most award-winning documentary filmmaker in Swedish history.

Sat. Jan 17 6:15 p.m. - QUEEN174E Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City
Sun. Jan 18 8:30 a.m. - QUEEN18PM Prospector Square Theatre, Park City
Sun. Jan 18 6:45 p.m. - QUEEN18BE Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC
Fri. Jan 23 11:30 a.m. - QUEEN23PD Prospector Square Theatre, Park City


more from Darius Kadivar
Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

I'm not interested in engaging in any type of comparisons.

You insinuated that I slandered you, which I found to be quite childish of you. If you are of the mindset that you will put your personal statement whereever you see fit, then you should also be of the mindset to accept criticism of that personal statement by anyone who disagrees with your statement.

That is what an open discussion forum is about.

For the record, the word you probably were meaning to use was "libel" or "libelous", which refers to the written word, rather than "slander", which refers to the spoken word.

And since you believe I am ungentlemanly with sarcastic undertones, (your libelous statement), allow me to sincerely wish you the best of luck in your quest for Farah Pahlavi's apology.


Dear "Kaveh Nouraee",

by MiNeum71 on

this is an open discussion forum, and as long as I don´t insult the members I can decide by myself what I want to do, and I decided to put my personal statement to this place.

Feel free to see the difference between our behaviours, I neither insinuated you saying or seeing or doing something nor I assumed a right to advise you to say or to see or to do something, besides in my opinion sarcastic undertone is not very gentlemanly.


Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

You consider THAT to be slander? I wasn't aware that you are someone with such a delicate emotional constitution.

But please refrain from trying to sell the idea that you are truly interested in an exchange of opinions. At the risk of you feeling slandered again, I doubt the sincerity of your interest to exchange opinions. You saw this thread as an opportunity to make a personal statement against Farah Pahlavi, which was not the purpose of this thread.

The original purpose of this thread was to spread the word regarding this documentary film that is being showcased at Sundance. If you spent enough time on this website you would see that Mr. Kadivar contributes the overwhelming bulk of film-related or history-related content.

There are scores of blogs and threads right here on this site for your meaningful exchange of opinion. There are plenty who wil agree with you, and perhaps together you can draft a letter of apology you would like from Mrs. Pahlavi, and send it to her for her review and signature.

But this one is for the film.


Dear "Kaveh Nouraee",

by MiNeum71 on

first of all thank you very much for the personal slander "That's a delusional thought if there ever was one"; I´m interested in exchange of opinions, and I don´t expect you being my opinion, but I expect a mutual respect towards each other.

Maybe this is the reason why we disagree in Farah´s case. I prefer a humanistic view of conflict: respect and high mindedness, and this brings us to terms called "moral responsibility" and "collective responsibility". Farah is also responsible for Shah´s misdoings. But if she doesn´t want to be put in touch with Shah´s political carreer, then she should remember that her imperial title and her financial possibilities are also a product of Shah´s political carreer. Did she terminate or give back?

I´m sure my past explanation of my point my view was detailed, and I must admit that I´m disappointed that just few people agree with me, but - based on Aristotle´s quote - Iran and most Iranians got the government they deserved.


Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

It is not for anyone in the Pahlavi family to apologize for anything, whether to you or to anyone else. They did not have any political power, and did not implement any type of policy whatsoever.

Ask for forgiveness in his name? That's a delusional thought if there ever was one.

As for Farah's shutting down of filming, good for her, I say. The woman has heard people trash her husband incessantly for years, and she is under no obligation to hear another syllable of it, let alone have it filmed. Again, because she had nothing to do with policy. If you want to tell her you think the Shah was evil, I suggest you take a number and stand in line. But bring a folding chair and a book, because if you want to spend your wait on your feet, you will get exhausted.

Darius Kadivar

Dear Arash The Film Was Completed

by Darius Kadivar on

No from what I understand the film was completed. But they did have an interruption during filming because they both needed to trust eachother and know eachothers intentions. This is quite natural for anyone who accepts to collaborate on a movie meant to be about them after all but who needs to know how the filmmaker is to portray them in a fair way. The condition was not to have the director share the Empress' views but to be accurate in the depiction of events or allegations. Anyone in the public eye would do the same. An example of the side effects of trusting someone and being betrayed or ambushed is when Michael Moore interviewed Charlton Heston. It was a dishonest approach on behalf of Moore to ask for an interview under a false identity only to discredit Heston and provoke controversy. One can disagree with Heston's views on Rifles but Moore's method of interviewing Heston in the way he did was not ethical.

But in this case I believe that the director was allowed to finish her film without any form of opposition from the Empress who gave her unique access to her personal film archives and thoughts. But I have not seen the film yet so I cannot vouch if I share the directors viewpoint.

But I think it should be enlightening and interesting since it was done with some sincerity by a director who has no particular reason to be flattering with the Queen and normally doesn't even share the same views.

The Empress' Website also has a link to the movie's official website:



Dear "Nokteh!", Dear "Ajam", Dear "Kaveh Nouraee"

by MiNeum71 on

The analysis of 50 years of history doesn´t belong to the objects which could be written down in few sentences. So I try to summarize my point of view.

1) "If you don´t know the truth you´re maybe a fool, but if you don´t say the truth you´re a criminal." (Galilei)

I guess we´ve all been in EU/USA the last years, and we have been watching the discussions in human rights topics. In Austria we had the problem of dealing with the past: After the denazification we had the struggle to come to terms with the past, and as you can imagine it wasn´t that easy. But the first step of was to bringt about a concilation, and this first successful step was admitting "Austria´s moral responsibility, because many Austrians welcomed the Anschluss, supported the Nazi-regime and helped it to function" and asking "for forgiveness of those who survived and forgiveness of the relatives of the victims" (Vranitzky, Austrian chancellor, 1993).

Pahlevi Family never realised and understood Shah´s misdoings and so never asked for forgiveness although many people were tortured and killed. We are not talking about a meaningless bagatelle, we are talking about extinguished lives, therefore many family members and friends had to bear misery. It´s a mark of respect for those victims to offer them an excuse. I´m not surprised at Farah´s shutting down filming. Maybe you´re right and she still thinks she´s Cindrella at the stroke of midnight, but she´s old enough to see that those goodies were the result of the rule of a bastard.

Human rights refers to the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled. It is universal and not cultural relativ. I understand that the 1960s and 1970s were different times, but the Pahlevis should have learned in the last years. To be believable (also in talking about human rights in Iran) they could have said something like "Shah did many mistakes because he didn´t know it better, we want to ask for forgiveness in his name".

The Pahlevis did wrong by failure to act. A genuine queen and a crown prince should have been able to do that. Non of the Pahlevis deserve a kingship.

2) "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people
some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the
time.” (Lincoln)

Shah was an evil and his regime was an oppressing one. Khomeini, his and his successores´ regimes were even worse. Iran´s good reputation is because of the history thousands of years ago, not because of the recent history. We are not that civilised society we - educated citizenry - think we are.

Thirty years ago we didn´t differenciate between good or bad, only between Shah and Non-Shah. People said: "This bastard is secularised, so we want a religious leader. This bastard stands for improvement, so we want to get back to the roots." And so all the different ideologies got together supporting the man whom they trusted most to be able to walk over Shah ignoring the desires and the needs of the Iranians, and that was a big mistake, so after the revolution the old and new opponents flew or were killed, and so - sorry for this term - these Islamic assfaced scumbags could take advantage of the female, the weak and the poor.

For making a change and getting back to Iran we must not make the same mistake, and the slogan should not be: "Monarchy was better than fundamentalism, so let us get back to the 1970s". We must figure out which government can help Iran and the Iranians (home and abroad) to improve towards a country, in which people can develop freely depending to their desires and possibilities. Shah was a miserable failure. Khomeini and his successores?

This is probably one of the saddest sentences I´ve ever written, and my heart is broken like glass into thousend pieces, when I say: "Every country gets the government it deserves" (Aristotle), and this is Iran at it´s best.



Everything is relative!

by Nokteh! (not verified) on

After 30 years of complete moral, social and economic collaps, some of us still talk about atrocities of the Shah!!! compare to Ghajars before or the Mullas afterwards??? lets be honest to ourselves at least. We are a people of complete lost identiy so all we can do is live in a fantasy of 2500 years ago. I think it is time to wake-up and smell ourselves(not the coffee or the roses), this way we will realize it is time to take a bath and clean ourselves from dogma, fanatism and blind imitation and actually become people with a purpose to better ourselves, our world and be an example to the rest of the world, otherwise we will continue to be an example of a nation which has made self deprication an art. If the Shah and his regime was an evil and opperessing one, how did they allow a revolution(as fake as it was) and tell me where did all the revolutionaries go? excluding all the ones which were excuted by the regime that they helped to come to power?? so what exactly did we revolt against and for??? and let's not talk about idologies as those are only good on papers.


Mr. Kadivar your Shahbanou looks very depressed!

by Anonymous E rooni (not verified) on

The last time I saw her on TV she looked very depressed.I even heard that she is very ill too.I would be depressed too if I was a prince and lost my husband and my daughter .A daughter who overdosed on pain killer and cocaine.


The Cinderella story...

by Ajam (not verified) on

Why shouldn't she defend that era and cherish every moment of it?! Just like Cindrella at the stroke of midnight, having to deal with a pumpkin and a herd of mice instead of the golden carriage, She can't believe that all those goodies are gone!

Arash Monzavi-Kia

Nice post Darius - a couple of questions

by Arash Monzavi-Kia on

Is that a completed project, or did they actually stop the filming after Nahid PS 's leftist background became clear?

Farah Diba was a complete outsider to the court, vis-à-vis background, personality and financial/social status. Is it fair to say that Shah's selection was influenced by that fact, favorably, in order to bring a breath of fresh air into the often toxic court environment?

PS - reply from Darius on another note:

> No from what I understand the film was completed. But they did have an interruption during filming because they both needed to trust each other I suppose. The Empress' Website also has a link to the movie's official website:
> href="//www.farahpahlavi.org/">//www.farahpahlavi.org/</a>
> </p>

Kaveh Nouraee


by Kaveh Nouraee on

Do you honestly expect her not to defend her husband?

Furthermore, as her being Shahbanou was/is symbolic rather than anything political, it would be out of line to comment on her husband's deeds or mistakes. The fact that she has maintained her dignity throughout the collapse of the monarchy and in the 30 years since by not getting into this debate and analysis of past mistakes is something for which I believe should be respected.



by MiNeum71 on

I always looked at her appraisingly as a woman without any sense of reality, defending her husband after so many years didn´t and doesn´t make any sense.

Things can happen, and the misdoings which happened were not her fault, but it´s a mark of personality and intelligence to be able to analyse the past and to acknowledge the mistakes happened. And she never did that.

Yes, she was popular, people cashed in on her attendance, but nobody knows if she also was loved (besides: This is also the mistake Shah did, nobody loved him, but western countries flattered him with their mouths and lied to him with their tongues for they scented good business opportunities).

No, it´s difficult to have respect for her.


Kaveh Nouraee

Looking forward

by Kaveh Nouraee on

to seeing this as soon as possible.

Thank you for posting this, Darius jaan.

Darius Kadivar

Indeed Irandokht Jan

by Darius Kadivar on

She is a great lady and I hope the film does her justice. I'm Jealous I would have loved to make a film on her ;0)

Thanks for your insightful and kind comments as usual.



Thank you Darius

by IRANdokht on

It was heartbreaking to hear Shahbanou speak of those dark days. I have always loved this classy lady who cares deeply for our people and her country.

I'd say to people, say what you will about the Shah and the corruption of his regime, but Farah Diba was and is a strong and caring lady and deserves our respect. Hopefully the movie would do her story justice and show the world how popular and loved she was...

Thank you for the information