Actress Shahla Riahi, who was also Iran’s first female filmmaker, dies at 93  

January 1, 2020 - 18:26

TEHRAN – Actress Shahla Riahi, who presented herself as Iran’s first female director in 1957 by making “Marjan”, died of Alzheimer’s in Tehran on Tuesday. She was 93.

Reports published by Persian news agencies about Riahi’s death were confirmed by her son, Manuchehr Riahi, in an interview with IRNA on Wednesday.

Riahi began her acting career at the age of 17 by a suggestion from her husband, Esmaeil Riahi, a stage director and screenwriter.

Her brilliant performance as the leading actress in director Moezzeddivan Fekri’s play “Harun al-Rashid’s Policy” presented her as a young, promising talent.

By playing a leading role in Fekri’s movie “Golden Dreams” in 1952, she was introduced to Iran’s cinema.

After working with numerous stage and screen directors, she tried her hand at filmmaking with “Marjan”, which was about a group of gypsies who settle near a village. Squeezed by pressures of life, a man from the gypsies steals a sheep from the village. The young teacher of the village traps the man, locking him up in a schoolroom. Marjan, the daughter of the man, goes to the school to visit her father and the teacher falls in love with the girl.

After “Marjan”, Riahi made no more films. “Acting was easier for me, so I put my focus on this area,” she once said in an interview.  

Riahi played roles in over 70 movies, including “Delshodegan” by Ali Hatami and “Two Movies with One Ticket” Dariush Farhang.

She also played roles in several TV series, the most popular one was “At Home” co-directed by Bijan Birang and Masud Rasam in 1986.   

In the children’s TV series, she portrayed Aziz Khanum, a lovely landlord who deals with the problems the children of her tenants and neighbors create during their summertime holiday.

Riahi made a cameo appearance in 2017 in director Saman Moqaddam’s comedy “Sperm Whale: Roya’s Selection”, which was her swansong. 

Photo: Actress Shahla Riahi attends the Iran Film Media Celebration at the Iranian Artists Forum in Tehran on January 30, 2011. 

MMS/YAW

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