Trailer: Poignant New Animated Short ‘The Cat’ Shines a Light on the Rights of Women + Girls in Iran

Perhaps one of the less discussed tragedies of the global pandemic is the collateral damage done to so many other exigent causes, with the urgency of the COVID crisis pushing nearly everything else to the margins in the name of sheer survival.

The universal rights of women, and the sometimes glaring lack thereof, remains a gravely serious matter. And Iranian actress and activist Mary Apick has just made an incisively visceral animated short film that specifically calls attention to the everyday plight of young girls in Iran. The Cat tells the story of just such a girl selling flowers on the streets of Tehran to survive. A metaphorical black cat is seen melting into a terrifying, malevolent dark ooze, and it subsequently threatens to take over her entire world.

“The main character is a little girl, a child laborer,” the director explains. “Whatever freedom and happiness she had starts being threatened, then devoured by the dark shadow of oppression. Running for her life, she has to find the nerve to turn back and fight, using her inner strength and courage to stand bravely against it.”

Apick was a child star in pre-Revolution Iran, appearing in the long-running series Octopus, in which she performed in political and satirical skits. The blackness in The Cat is meant to represent the darkening of education, religious freedom, culture and especially the rights of women and girls since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In 2005 she wrote and directed the controversial Beneath the Veil, and since that time has devoted most of her creative energies to determined activism, especially where women are concerned. The Cat is surely the culmination of that ideological journey, in terms of poignancy and visual potency, and has rightly been honored with numerous Best Short Film Awards as it has traveled along the festival circuit.

“Throughout my life I wanted to be a voice for women around the world who are struggling against oppression,” she says, “especially in Iran, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East. It’s a never-ending battle for women to achieve freedom, equality and basic human rights. There are always more closed societies, led by extremist, totalitarian governments, ready to strip the rights of the very citizens they are supposed to serve.”

And as we have so very recently seen from Texas to India to Afghanistan, the fight for the basic human rights of women and girls remains as critical as ever.

The Cat will be released via YouTube on December 1.

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