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Shirin Ebadi: A Simple Lawyer
A Film by Bani Khoshnoudi
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This documentary profiles Iranian attorney Shirin Ebadi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts for democracy and human rights, in particular the struggle for the rights of women and children. SHIRIN EBADI - A SIMPLE LAWYER features an in-depth interview with Ebadi conducted in her Tehran office, speeches at numerous international conferences, and a visit to the children's center she founded.

Appointed the first female president of the Tehran City Court in 1975, Ebadi lost her position following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, when women were forbidden to serve as judges. She was readmitted to the bar in the early 1990's when, as an attorney, she began to challenge Iran's religious courts over a wide variety of issues-including human rights, freedom of expression, political prisoners, and democratic reform-demonstrating the need for an overall reform of the Iranian justice system.

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Indeed, Ebadi argues that the most serious problem in Iran today is the misuse of religion and that judges must be independent of the Islamic government. She points out, for example, that although women in Iran are taking a more active role in social life, including increased attendance at universities, the status of women has actually regressed since the Islamic Revolution.

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Despite her increased fame since receiving the Nobel Prize, Ebadi retains a sense of humility. She points out that Iran, of all countries, should be aware of the danger of personality cults, and that she has no desire to be a spokesperson or role model for Iran's 70 million citizens. As the film makes clear, however, although Shirin Ebadi may consider herself merely "a simple lawyer," her committed pursuit of peace, justice and human rights, despite recent death threats, has made her an international symbol of Iran's current struggle for democracy.

"While Muslim women continue to endure severe inequality, many are nonetheless making remarkable efforts to reshape their own lives as well as the societies that shackle them. [Ebadi] has special significance, because she is not a Westernized feminist advocating secular rule, but a devoted Muslim living under a repressive Islamic system who insists that women's rights are universal and compatible with Islamic teachings."—Time Magazine

"Highly Recommended!"—Educational Media Reviews Online

"Whether she is giving a speech in Bogota, Paris or Geneva or confiding in the calm of her law office in Tehran, it is always with the same resolute and precise tone, a rhythm which characterizes this documentary... Besides this charismatic attorney, we see the faces of some of her companions, and, above all, those who share her struggle."—Arte Magazine

"Shows the exhausting journey of this indefatigable and charismatic angel of peace... A valuable recounting of the last thirty years of political history in Iran."—Les Inrockuptibles

2006 Middle East & Central Asia Politics, Economics, and Society Conference
2006 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival
2005 Middle Eastern Studies Association FilmFest

48 minutes / color
Release: 2005
Copyright: 2004
Sale: $348

Subject areas:
Biographies, Conflict Resolution, Human Rights, Iran, Islam, Law, Middle East, Religion, Women's Studies

Related Links:
Read Ebadi's Nobel Acceptance Lecture

Ebadi's Biography and more at

Related Titles:
Fragments of a Revolution: A view of the Iranian Green Revolution protest movement, which followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed 2009 election victory.

The Road to Kerbala: Filmmaker Katia Jarjoura joins religious celebrants on the 100-kilometer walk from Baghdad to Kerbala, offering rare insights into the political and religious turmoil of U.S.-occupied Iraq.

Shi'ism: Across Iran, Lebanon and Iraq a cross-section of major contemporary Shiite figures discuss and debate the history, theology and values of this minority branch of Islam.

Grassroots in Dry Lands: Tells the story of three unconventional social workers united by a common vision that transcends the antagonisms between their countries.

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Last Updated August 17, 2016
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