Marjane Satrapi

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Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi Cannes 2008.jpg
Born (1969-11-22) 22 November 1969 (age 51)
Rasht, Iran[1]
NationalityFrench and Iranian[2]
Area(s)Artist and writer
Notable works
Awardsfull list

Marjane Satrapi (Persian: مرجان ساتراپی‎; born 22 November 1969) is an Iranian-born French[2][3] graphic novelist, cartoonist, illustrator, film director, and children's book author. Her best-known works include the comic book Persepolis and its film adaptation, the graphic novel Chicken with Plums, and the Marie Curie biopic Radioactive.


Satrapi was born in Rasht, Iran.[1] She grew up in Tehran in a middle-class Iranian family.[4] Both her parents were politically active and supported Marxist causes against the monarchy of the last Shah. When the Iranian Revolution took place in 1979, they were oppressed by the Muslim fundamentalists who took power.[4]

During her youth, Marjane was exposed to the growing brutalities of the various regimes. Many of her family friends were persecuted, arrested, and even murdered. She found a hero in her paternal uncle, Anoosh, who had been a political prisoner and lived in exile in the Soviet Union for a time. Young Marjane greatly admired her uncle, and he in turn doted on her, treating her more as a daughter than a niece. Once back in Iran, Anoosh was arrested again and sentenced to death. Anoosh was only allowed one visitor the night before his execution, and he requested Marjane. His body was buried in an unmarked grave in the prison.

Although her parents encouraged Marjane to be strong-willed and defend her rights, they grew concerned for Marjane's safety. Barely in her teens by this time, she was skirting trouble with police for disregarding modesty codes and buying music banned by the regime.

They arranged for her to live with a family friend to study abroad, and in 1983 she arrived in Vienna, Austria, to attend the Lycée Français de Vienne.[5] She stayed in Vienna through her high school years, often moving from one residence to another as situations changed, and sometimes stayed at friends' homes. Eventually, she was homeless and lived on the streets for three months, until she was hospitalized for an almost deadly bout of pneumonia. Upon recovery, she returned to Iran. She studied visual communication, eventually obtaining a master's degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran.[6]

Satrapi married Reza, a veteran of the Iran–Iraq War, when she was 21, whom she later divorced. She then moved to Strasbourg, France. Her parents told her that Iran was no longer the place for her, and encouraged her to stay in Europe permanently.

Satrapi is married to Mattias Ripa, a Swedish national. They live in Paris.[4] Apart from her native language, Persian, she speaks French, English, Swedish, German, and Italian.[7]


Comic books[edit]

Satrapi became famous worldwide because of her critically acclaimed autobiographical graphic novels, originally published in French in four parts in 2000–2003 and in English translation in two parts in 2003 and 2004, respectively, as Persepolis and Persepolis 2, which describe her childhood in Iran and her adolescence in Europe. Persepolis won the Angoulême Coup de Coeur Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival. In 2013, Chicago schools were ordered by the district to remove Persepolis from classrooms because of the work's graphic language and violence. This incited protests and controversy.[8] Her later publication, Embroideries (Broderies), was also nominated for the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003, an award that her novel Chicken with Plums (Poulet aux prunes) won.[9][10] She has also contributed to the Op-Ed section of The New York Times.[11]

Comics Alliance listed Satrapi as one of 12 women cartoonists deserving of lifetime achievement recognition.[12]

Satrapi prefers the term "comic books" to "graphic novels."[13] "People are so afraid to say the word 'comic'," she told the Guardian newspaper in 2011. "It makes you think of a grown man with pimples, a ponytail and a big belly. Change it to 'graphic novel' and that disappears. No: it's all comics."[14]


Marjane Satrapi at the premiere of Persepolis

Persepolis was adapted into an animated film of the same name. It debuted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival in May 2007 and shared a Special Jury Prize with Carlos Reygadas's Silent Light (Luz silenciosa).[15] Co-written and co-directed by Satrapi and director Vincent Paronnaud, the French-language picture stars the voices of Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, and Simon Abkarian. The English version, starring the voices of Gena Rowlands, Sean Penn, and Iggy Pop, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in January 2008.[16] Satrapi was the first woman to be nominated for the award. However, the Iranian government denounced the film and got it dropped from the Bangkok International Film Festival.[17] Otherwise, Persepolis was a very successful film both commercially (with over a million admissions in France alone) as well as critically, winning Best First Film at the César Awards 2008. The film reflects many tendencies of first-time filmmaking in France (which makes up around 40% of all French cinema each year), notably in its focus on very intimate rites of passage, and quite ambivalently recounted coming-of-age moments.[18]

Satrapi and Paronnaud continued their successful collaboration with a second film, a live-action adaptation of Chicken with Plums, released in late 2011.[19][20] In 2012, Satrapi directed and acted in the comedy crime film Gang of the Jotas, from her own screenplay.[21][22]

In 2014 Satrapi directed the comedy-horror film The Voices, from a screenplay by Michael R. Perry.[23]

In 2019, Satrapi directed a biopic of two-time Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, titled Radioactive.[24]


Following the Iranian elections in June 2009, Satrapi and Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf appeared before Green Party members in the European Parliament to present a document allegedly received from a member of the Iranian electoral commission claiming that the reform candidate, Mir Hossein Mousavi, had actually won the election, and that the conservative incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad had received only 12% of the vote.[25]




  • Persepolis (2000), Paris: L'Association, ISBN 2-84414-058-0
  • Persepolis v2, (2001), L'Association, ISBN 2-84414-079-3
  • Persepolis v3, (2002), L'Association, ISBN 2-84414-104-8
  • Persepolis v4, (2003), L'Association, ISBN 2-84414-137-4
  • Sagesses et malices de la Perse (2001, with Lila Ibrahim-Ouali and Bahman Namwar-Motalg, Albin Michel, ISBN 2-226-11872-1)
  • Les monstres n'aiment pas la lune (2001, Nathan Jeunesse, ISBN 2-09-282094-X)
  • Ulysse au pays des fous (2001, with Jean-Pierre Duffour, Nathan Jeunesse, ISBN 2-09-210847-6)
  • Ajdar (2002, Nathan Jeunesse, ISBN 2-09-211033-0)
  • Broderies (2003, L'Association, ISBN 2-84414-095-5)
  • Poulet aux prunes (2004), Paris: L'Association, ISBN 2-84414-159-5
  • Le Soupir (2004, Bréal Jeunesse, ISBN 2-7495-0325-6)



Year Film Director Writer Notes
2007 Persepolis Yes Yes Co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud;
Nominated: Academy Award for Best Animated Feature
Nominated: BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language
Nominated: BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film

Won: The Cinema for Peace Award for the Most Valuable Film of the Year[29]
Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film

2011 Chicken with Plums Yes Yes Co-directed with Vincent Paronnaud
2012 Gang of the Jotas Yes Yes Also actress
2014 The Voices Yes No
2019 Radioactive Yes No


  1. ^ a b Hattenstone, Simon (29 March 2008). "Simon Hattenstone interviews Marjane Satrapi, whose best-selling comic book Persepolis is now an award-winning film!". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Vingt-deux films pour une palme d'Or". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Marjane Satrapi". The Washington Post. 20 January 2008. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Hattenstone, Simon (29 March 2008). "Confessions of Miss Mischief". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 November 2012.
  5. ^ Bédarida, Catherine. "Marjane Satrapi dessine la vie de l'Iran." Le Monde. 25 June 2003. Retrieved on 21 September 2009.
  6. ^ Heather Lee Schroeder (2010). A Reader's Guide to Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. Enslow Publishers, Inc. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-7660-3166-1. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  7. ^ "Author Bio: Marjane Satrapi". Michael Schwartz Library: Cleveland State University. 2011. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (19 March 2013). "Persepolis battle in Chicago schools provokes outcry". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Les nominés d'Angoulême 2003" (in French). ActuaBD. 10 December 2003.
  10. ^ a b BDParadisio. "32ème Festival International D'Angouleme" (in French).
  11. ^ Satrapi, Marjane. "Op-Ed contributors search". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  12. ^ "12 Women in Comics Who Deserve Lifetime Achievement Recognition". Comics Alliance. Archived from the original on 1 August 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  13. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (20 March 2015). "Marjane Satrapi: the Persepolis director escapes her comfort zone". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  14. ^ Satrapi, Marjane (16 June 2011). "How to film a graphic novel". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Festival de Cannes: Persepolis". Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Persepolis (2007) NYT Critics' Pick". The New York Times. 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  17. ^ "Highly Acclaimed 'Persepolis' Denounced by Iran". Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  18. ^ Palmer, Tim (2011). Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, Wesleyan University Press, Middleton CT. ISBN 0-8195-6827-9.
  19. ^ "Poulet aux prunes". AlloCiné (in French). Tiger Global. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  20. ^ Young, Deborah (3 September 2011). "Chicken with Plums: Venice Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  21. ^ "Q&A: "THE VOICES" Director Marjane Satrapi on Talking Animals and a Sympathetic Psychopath". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  22. ^ Satrapi, Marjane (6 February 2013), The Gang of the Jotas, retrieved 10 February 2016
  23. ^ "New Stills Hear The Voices - Dread Central". Dread Central. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  24. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (19 February 2018). "Amazon Boards Marjane Satrapi's Marie Curie Biopic 'Radioactive' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  25. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (16 June 2009). "Iranian author Marjane Satrapi speaks out about election". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  26. ^ Comic Book Awards Almanac. "Awards of the 2001 Angoulême International Comics Festival". Archived from the original on 5 May 2006.
  27. ^ "Angoulême 2002: les lauréats" (in French). ActuaBD. 25 January 2002.
  28. ^ "KUL en UCL reiken samen eredoctoraten uit" [KUL and UCL award honorary doctorates together] (in Dutch). De Morgan. 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  29. ^ Schmitz, Cordula (12 February 2008). "Cinema for Peace: Joschka Fischer singt mit seinen Freunden". DIE WELT. Retrieved 24 July 2020.

Further reading[edit]

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