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Speaking Freely, but Living Abroad
Both the writer-director and the actress who plays his central character have lived and worked in a manner that defies the strictures of their respective cultures' religious prohibitions. Since leaving Afghanistan at the age of twenty in the mid-1990s, becoming a well-known novelist and filmmaker, and winning the Prix Goncourt in 2008, Rahimi has achieved both admiration and infamy in his homeland and in the Muslim world. "Of course, there are the mullahs who condemn him, but Afghanistan is proud of Atiq," says Gentile.

Similarly, Golshifteh Farahani, the Iranian actress who plays the film's protagonist, was a beloved star in Iranian film, television, and theater since her early teen years, but has become persona non grata in Iran after appearing in the 2008 Ridley Scott thriller Body of Lies (plus, a sexy photo shoot in a western fashion magazine further damned her). Farahani can travel to Iran to visit family, but cannot work there and, like Rahimi, she now lives in Paris.

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