The leading female filmmaker of Iran, Rakhshan Bani-Etemad has been making socially engaged documentaries since 1984, in addition to six feature films since 1988. Iranian film critics were harsh about her first three films: Karezhj Az Mahdoudeh (Off the Limits ); Zard-e Ghanari (Yellow Canary ), and Poul-e Khareji (Foreign Currency ), all three of them comedies with a sharp eye for social satire. They saw a young artist keen on entering the cinema profession, but did not find any characteristic features, except perhaps a sense of solidarity with the underprivileged. Scripts written by others did not give her woman's point of view much chance to develop.
With Nargess (1992), which she based on research she conducted for several years while making documentaries, Bani-Etemad began to focus on adult relationships, problems facing women, and questions about the traditional mores of society. Her next work, Rusariye Abi (The Blue Veiled ) explored the possibilities of love forbidden in all fronts -- an extramarital liaison between a working class young woman and a much older man of means. The film received the Bronze Leopard Award at the Locarno Film Festival of that year. Banoo-ye Ordibehsht (The May Lady) is about the tribulations of a 42-year-old divorcée caught between motherhood and womanhood in a society where values are constantly changing.