"It's based on real life, but from the second you make a script, it becomes fictional," says 37-year-old writer-director-comic artist Marjane Satrapi of the animated film "Persepolis," which is based on her graphic novels inspired by growing up in Tehran after the Iranian revolution. "I ended up looking at the main character as the main character, not myself." She also had to "cheat" and make changes so her story would come alive.
Satrapi's film, which she co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud and which opens Dec. 25, has already scooped up the Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and it's easy to see why. It's a delightful -- yet poignant -- child's-eye view on the the winnowing of personal freedoms under the harsh regime of the ayatollahs. The film evokes young Satrapi's quest for contraband punk rock, the perennial irritation of keeping one's headscarf correct and how to conduct romance in a country where unmarried men and women should not be seen in public together.
It chronicles her young years as an exile student in Vienna, adrift in the West. The French-language film is largely done in her trademark black-and-white style and features the voices of real-life daughter-mother Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve.