Breaking the Chains: New Animation About Historical Role Baha’is Played in Bringing Education to Girls in 1900s Iran

We’re excited to share a new animation called ‘Breaking the Chains: The Story of the Girls School in Iran‘, an animated short film which tells the historical role Baha’is played in bringing education to girls in Iran in the early 1900s. The animation explains how in the early 1900s, only 5% of the population of Iran had access to basic writing skills, and knowledge of the sciences were kept exclusively to men. Breaking this cycle of oppression was no small feat, and that’s when Tahirih and Abdu’l-Baha come into the story.

The animation is in both English and Persian/Farsi, and it was made by my dear Brazilian-Persian friend, Director and Producer Flavio Azm Rassekh, in collaboration with PersianBMS.

I caught up with Flavio to find out more about it, and here’s what he shared:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Flavio! So tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind ‘Breaking the Chains’, and why you felt it was important to create it?

The idea for this film came up after attending a talk at the Persian Conference in Chicago last year, and the story of Abdu’l-Baha’s vision for the future of Iran was too interesting not to be told, especially the education of girls. At that time 95% of the population was illiterate, and most people had no access to the current developments of the arts and sciences happening in the west. I felt that this short animation could maybe make people more curious about the driving force behind the leap forward that took place in the last decade of the 19th century. That was a huge enterprise!

Baha’i Blog: Today, Iran can argue that they have widespread education for all women now, so what’s the point of this story? What would you say to that?

Education is only theoretically “free for all”. Undoubtedly there was great progress in this field in the past 120 years, but the setbacks since 1979 are more than obvious for most people. Just ask the Baha’is. Although women’s participation in universities is gradually growing and gender boundaries are being stretched, there is still a need for fundamental structural changes in all social and educational areas. Just to illustrate the point, in 2012 more than 30 universities have introduced new rules banning female students from almost 80 different courses. These include a bewildering variety of subjects from engineering, nuclear physics, and computer science, to English literature, archaeology, and business.

We should also pay attention to systematic discrimination against them in managerial and administrative positions, in both government and business positions. The list is way too long to mention here.

Baha’i Blog: What do you hope viewers will take away from this film after watching it?

Filmmaker, Flavio Azm Rassekh.

I wish people would look for ways they can support women’s rights movements across the globe, especially in the middle east where issues are more dramatic. Tahirih’s story always comes to mind at these moments.

We are at a crossroads right now, and bringing forth solutions through the education of children, teenagers, and young adults is critical at this point. I hope people will share both the trailer and the short film through social media, especially inside Iran, so people can get inspired by this story. That’s why we have the film in both English and Persian languages available.

Baha’i Blog: Great! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these few questions, Flavio, and thanks for creating this awesome new animation too!

I’ve embedded the English version of ‘Breaking the Chains’ below, and check out links to the trailer and Persian/Farsi versions as well:

* Watch the Persian/Farsi version of ‘Breaking the Chains’ here: شکفتن از شکاف سنگ
* Watch the Persian/Farsi trailer here: شکفتن از شکاف سنگ – تیزر
* Watch the English trailer here: Breaking the Chains [TRAILER]

BREAKING THE CHAINS (English Version):

You may also enjoy watching the ‘Hope From Iran’ trilogy of short films by Flavio Azm Rassekh available in English and Persian as well: ‘Hope From Iran’ playlist.

About the Author

Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

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Discussion 2 Comments

  1. I thought there was one school for boys and another school for girls. So I found it strange to see boys and girls together.
    For the rest: very well done.Thank you!!

    Gisela von Brunn, Germany

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