The first movie produced by Afghanistan filmmakers after the fall of the Taliban, Osama is a searing portrait of life under the oppressive fundamentalist regime. Because women are not allowed to work, a widow disguises her young daughter (Marina Golbahari) as a boy so they won't starve to death. Simply walking the streets is frightening enough, but when the disguised girl is rounded up with all the boys in the town for religious training, her peril becomes absolutely harrowing. Golbahari's face–beautiful but taut with terror–is riveting. The movie captures both her plight and the miseries of daily life in spare, vivid images. At one point, her mother is nearly killed for exposing her feet while riding on the back of a bicycle; for the entire scene, the camera shows only her feet, with the spokes of the wheel radiating out behind as she lowers her burka over them.
Even though Iran is in the news virtually every day, many Americans have little knowledge of the story of the hundreds of thousands of Iranians who live in the U.S. As THE IRANIAN AMERICANS shows, the Iranians' story begins more than two millennia ago in the Middle East, in a land that came to be called Persia.