Marjan Khatibi, assistant professor of art at Nicholls State University, recently won an ANMTN for an animated short she created that focuses on women’s rights. Khatibi made this short while he was a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She had the honor of receiving the prize for best student film from the ANMTN: the International Animation Film Festival.
This festival is dedicated to growing the global community of filmmakers and animation enthusiasts. These awards have been given to newcomers and professionals since 2019 and celebrate a variety of films and genres.
Khatibi’s film is titled ‘A Girl Who Asked Why’ and focuses on the rights – or lack thereof – of the women in her home in the Middle East. She said, “Women in my country and many other countries in the Middle East are not allowed to do a lot of things, and I think I have a responsibility to be their voice as an artist. For me, art is a way to communicate and inspire people through untold stories.
Khatibi’s short film is a fantasy story created in 2D animation with line art. Khatibi herself served as screenwriter, illustrator, animator and director of the film. Music was provided by Fariborz Lachini. She said the story was inspired by author Sun Mehta’s “A Tale of a Fairy Tale and Other Stories” and her own personal experiences. The film highlights many current issues, such as the restrictions imposed on Iranian women and the struggles they face throughout their daily lives.
The film follows a young girl fighting for basic human rights who lives in a world where the rights of men, and only men, come first. Khatibi managed to create an imaginary setting with Middle Eastern influence – dividing the world into a land filled with respect and equality and an undersea society plagued by ignorance. The creatures of his animation travel through their land and find their way to the land where human rights are respected.
Khatibi said: “In many countries in the Middle East, women are not allowed to make independent decisions and need the approval of men for their basic rights. I believe we need to create art in order to raise awareness.