LOS ANGELES – Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani -- reportedly exiled from the country in 2012 for exposing her breasts in a photo shoot -- has caused another stir by baring her body for renowned fashion photographer Paolo Roversi in the French magazine Egoiste. The black-and-white image shows Farahani, 31, looking sultrily into the camera, her body slightly twisted to the side, with all parts in clear view.
“France has liberated me. (Paris) is the only place in the world where women do not feel guilty,” she told the luxury publication. “In the East, you are that (guilty) all the time. As soon as you feel your first sexual impulses.”
The controversial images come in the wake of terrorist attacks against satirical Paris publication Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were murdered because the magazine made fun of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Farahani is now reportedly based in Paris with her husband Amin Mahdavi, which raises the question: By posing for the magazine, could Farahani be courting danger in her new home?
“On a personal level Golshifteh Farahani may be inviting danger for herself, or more importantly for her family in Iran, but on a professional level the decision may lead to more roles,” observed Brown University sociologist, Dr. Hillary Friedman. “More significantly on a political level, whether or not you agree with nudity, her freedom to make this decision highlights choice that individuals and women have in countries outside of Iran and other similar nations in the Middle East.”
Kamal Nawash, an attorney and President of the Free Muslims Coalition, a non-profit organization that seeks to stamp out terrorism, argues that posing naked isn’t necessarily the best way to support women’s rights.
“In addition to degrading and objectifying women, posing naked may actually be counterproductive to supporting women’s rights. Those opposing equality for women, will just point to the naked women and argue to the parents of the nation that it is their traditional values that prevent their daughters from being degraded and objectified as women,” he said. “This will be a powerful argument because most parents do not want to see their daughters posing naked.”
Farahani has been called the most famous actress from Iran, being the first Iranian woman to star in a Hollywood blockbuster – 2008’s “Body of Lies” alongside Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio – since the 1979 revolution. Yet she has previously insisted that it is not her intention to provoke or shock.
“I hate politics,” she told The Guardian newspaper. “It is not my job.”
Farahani was exiled from Iran in early 2012 after an official of the Supreme Court in the Islamic Republic after she revealed her right breast in a black-and-white video with thirty other French cinema prodigies promoting the Césars, a rough French equivalent to the Academy Awards.
Middle East news site Al-Arabiya reported that authorities phoned her family in Tehran to inform them that she would not be welcome back and that she would be “punished, that her breasts would be cut off and presented (to her father) on a plate.”
The official Tehran-based news agency issued a report about her, describing her as the “hidden, disgusting face of cinema,” according to The Guardian. She was also lambasted by the culture ministry for “not wearing a headscarf” at the New York premiere of “Body of Lies” a few years earlier and reportedly received further threats for speaking out in support of the unsuccessful “green revolution,” the political movement which gained momentum following Iran’s 2009 presidential election when scores of Iranians campaigned for the removal of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office.
The last film she made there in 2009, entitled “About Elly” which went on to win the award for Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival and was Iran’s official selection to compete at the 82nd Academy Awards in the field of Best Foreign Language Film, was banned by the censors before it opened.
Farahani told the British newspaper The Telegraph that she was also informed by the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guide official that the country “does need any actors or artists” and that she should offer her “artistic services somewhere else.”
A representative for Farahani did not respond for further comment, and the Iranian government is yet to issue a response to her photo shoot.