Comics: Marjane Satrapi “Academy Award-nominated animated film director”

Marjane Satrapi  is an Iranian and French contemporary graphic novelist, illustrator, Academy Award-nominated animated film director, and children’s book author.

Satrapi grew up in Tehran in a communist family which was involved with the communist and socialist movements in Iran, prior to the Iranian Revolution. She attended the Lycée Français there and witnessed, as a child, the growing suppression of civil liberties and the everyday-life consequences of Iranian politics, including the fall of the Shah, the early regime of Ruhollah Khomeini, and the first years of the Iran-Iraq war.

Marjane Satrapi self portrait

Satrapi is a great-granddaughter of Nasser al-Din Shah, Shah of Persia from 1848 until 1896. However, Satrapi points out that “the kings of the Qajar dynasty…had hundreds of wives. They made thousands of kids. If you multiply these kids by generation you have, I don’t know, ten to fifteen thousand princes and princesses. There’s nothing extremely special about that.”

In 1983, at the age of 14, Satrapi was sent to Vienna, Austria, by her parents in order to flee the Iranian regime. According to her autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis, she lived there during her high school years, returning to Iran for college. At college, she met a man named Reza, whom she married at age 21 and divorced roughly three years later.

She then studied Visual Communication, eventually obtaining a Master’s Degree in Visual Communication from the School of Fine Arts in Tehran Islamic Azad University. Satrapi then moved to Strasbourg, France. She currently lives in Paris, where she works as an illustrator and an author of children’s books.

Satrapi’s career began in earnest when she met David B., a French comics artist. She adopted a style similar to his, especially in her earliest works. Satrapi became famous worldwide because of her critically acclaimed autobiographical graphic novels Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which describe her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. Persepolis won the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. Her later publication, Broderies (Embroideries) was also nominated for the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003, an award which was won by her most recent novel, Poulet aux prunes. She has also contributed to the Op-Ed section of The New York Times.

Persepolis was adapted into an animated film of the same name, which debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007 and shared a Special Jury Prize with Still Light (Luz silenciosa) by Carlos Reygadas. Co-written and co-directed by Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, the French-language picture stars the voices of Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, and Simon Abkarian. The English version, starring the voices of Gena Rowlands, Sean Penn, and Iggy Pop, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in January 2008.

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