Marjane Satrapi

"Satrapi" redirects here. For the jurisdiction of an ancient Persian governor, see Satrap.
Marjane Satrapi

Born (1969-11-22) 22 November 1969
Rasht, Iran
Nationality French[1][2] and Iranian
Area(s) Artist and writer
Notable works
Awards full list

Marjane Satrapi (Persian: مرجان ساتراپی) (born 22 November 1969) is an Iranian-born French[1][2][3] graphic novelist, cartoonist, illustrator, film director, and children's book author.


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

During her youth, Marjane was constantly exposed to the growing brutalities of the various regimes. She witnessed many family friends being persecuted, arrested, and even murdered. She found a hero in her uncle, Anoosh, who had been a political prisoner and lived in exile for a time. Young Marjane adored her uncle and greatly admired him, and he in turn doted on her, treating her as if she was his own daughter. Tragically, as detailed in Satrapi's autobiography, Anoosh was arrested again and executed; his body was buried in an unmarked grave in the prison. Anoosh was only allowed one visitor before his execution, and he requested Marjane. The loss of her uncle left her deeply upset. As a young teen, Marjane began to act out, getting into trouble with the police for breaking modesty codes and buying music banned by the regime.

Her parents grew concerned that the young Marjane, a strong-willed and rambunctious teenager, would run afoul of the strict new public codes for women.[4] They arranged for her to study abroad, and in 1983 she arrived in Vienna, Austria, to attend the Lycée Français de Vienne.[5] According to her autobiographical graphic novel, Persepolis, she stayed in Vienna through her high school years, staying in friends' homes, but spent two months living on the streets. After an almost deadly bout of pneumonia, she returned to Iran. She studied visual communication, eventually obtaining a master's degree from Islamic Azad University in Tehran.[6]

During this time, Satrapi went to numerous illegal parties hosted by her friends, where she met a man named Reza, a veteran of the Iran–Iraq War. She married him at the age of 21, but divorced him roughly a couple years later. Satrapi then moved to Strasbourg, France.

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


Graphic novels

Satrapi's career began in earnest when she met David Beauchard, a French comics artist who became her mentor and teacher.[8] 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. Her later publication, Embroideries (Broderies) was also nominated for the Angoulême Album of the Year award in 2003, an award which was won by her novel, Chicken with Plums (Poulet aux prunes).[9][10] She has also contributed to the Op-Ed section of The New York Times.[11]

Comics Alliance listed Satrapi as one of twelve 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 Silent Light (Luz silenciosa) by Carlos Reygadas.[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] With this, she became the first woman to be nominated for the award.

Persepolis was a very successful film both commercially (with over a million admissions in France alone) as well as critically, winning the Best First Film at the César Awards 2008. As such 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.[17]

Satrapi and Paronnaud continued their successful collaboration with a second film, a live-action adaptation of Chicken with Plums, released in late 2011.[18][19] A year later, in 2012, Satrapi directed and acted in the comedy crime film Gang of the Jotas, from her own screenplay.[20][21]

In 2014 Satrapi directed the comedy-horror film The Voices, from a screenplay from Michael R. Perry.[22]

Public appearances

Following the Iranian elections in June 2009, Marjane 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.[23]







  1. 1 2 "J'ai été très bien accueillie et je n'oublierai jamais que j'ai été naturalisée grâce à Jack Lang." (Abusdecine perse les secrets de « Persepolis » ).
  2. 1 2 Vingt-deux films pour une palme d'Or
  3. "Marjane Satrapi". The Washington Post. 2008-01-20. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  4. 1 2 3 4 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. Wolk, Douglas (21 May 2005). "This Sweet Sickness". New York. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  9. "Les nominés d'Angoulême 2003" (in French). ActuaBD. 10 December 2003.
  10. 1 2 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. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  13. Gilbey, Ryan (2015-03-20). "Marjane Satrapi: the Persepolis director escapes her comfort zone". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  14. Satrapi, Marjane (2011-06-16). "How to film a graphic novel". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  15. 1 2 "Festival de Cannes: Persepolis". Retrieved 20 December 2009.
  16. 1 2 "Persepolis (2007) NYT Critics' Pick". The New York Times. 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  17. Palmer, Tim (2011). Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, Wesleyan University Press, Middleton CT. ISBN 0-8195-6827-9.
  18. "Poulet aux prunes". AlloCiné (in French). Tiger Global. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  19. Young, Deborah (3 September 2011). "Chicken with Plums: Venice Film Review". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  20. Q&A: “THE VOICES” Director Marjane Satrapi on Talking Animals and a Sympathetic Psychopath
  21. Satrapi, Marjane (2013-02-06), The Gang of the Jotas, retrieved 2016-02-10
  22. "New Stills Hear The Voices - Dread Central". Dread Central. Retrieved 2016-02-10.
  23. Kellogg, Carolyn (16 June 2009). "Iranian author Marjane Satrapi speaks out about election". The Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 6 September 2011.
  24. Comic Book Awards Almanac. "Awards of the 2001 Angoulême International Comics Festival".
  25. "Angoulême 2002: les lauréats" (in French). ActuaBD. 25 January 2002.
  26. "KUL en UCL reiken samen eredoctoraten uit" [KUL and UCL award honorary doctorates together] (in Dutch). De Morgan. 2008. Retrieved 6 September 2011.

Further reading

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