Samira Makhmalbaf is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and script writer. She started to learn cinema in the Mohhmalbaf Film House when she was 14 years old. At the age of 17, she had already directed two videos. She directed the movie called The Apple when she was 18 years old. She becomes the youngest director in the world participating in the official section of the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. She also won Sutherland Trophy of London Film Festival for The Apple in 1998.
The Apple is a film that reflects the discrimination women face in a patriarchal society. An unemployed father and a blind mother locked their twin daughters up for more than 10 years. The daughters are never allowed out. As a result, they can’t communicate and behave like the children who are at the same age. The welfare officer releases the children with the help of the neighbors and encourages the children to play outside and make friends. The officer locks their parents inside their home as punishment. The children make friends with two neighborhood girls and walk around the city with them. When they return, the officer asks them to open the door to release their parents. At the end, the father takes the children to buy a watch. The father holds their hands and walk away from the camera. It is the first time, we see they walking freely together in the street.
Unlike some filmmakers, Makhmalbaf uses the camera to reflect the serious issue in Iranian society. She creates “new awareness of standpoint and accountability “(Hooks, P7). The mistreatment of these two young girls is representing the female experience in a historically patriarchal country. The father refuses to allow his daughters go out is a symbol of oppression of women. At the same time, two young girls also act as a symbol of women pursuit happiness and freedom. They follow a young boy who hangs an apple and walk around the city with another two girls after they go out. The young girls and also the women in Iran need more opportunity to know more about the outside world and pursuit their happiness.
Makhmalbaf not only makes movies to relate the experience of women, but also to encourage women to fight for their rights and freedom. She has been important like some female directors, such as Catherine and Debra Zimmerman. They draw attention to women. They know that “a major problem, even today, is convincing men that films by and about women are important.” (Brownworht, P265) They all call for more opportunities for women filmmakers to get their work before the general public. “Changing how we see images [and changing how we make images] is clearly one way to change the world.” (Hooks, P6)