Iranian actress: Starring in “I Am Mine Alone” gave voice to her fight for women’s rights

Zina Torab voiced her call for women’s rights with her Best Actress performance in “I Am Mine Alone.”

Zina Torab and Richard Douglas Jensen star in the award-winning “I Am Mine Alone,” a movie about Muslim women’s rights.

“Habiba” lies awake at night, wondering if she will be able to achieve her dreams in a new land.

“I Am Mine Alone” streaming on Amazon Prime, VUDU, and Fawesome

Acting in ‘I Am Mine Alone’ provided the opportunity for me to say, ‘Afghan lives matter’ through my profession.”

— Zina Torab

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, August 16, 2023/ — Zina Torab stars in “I Am Mine Alone,” a movie about an Afghan refugee who comes to the United States to seek her freedom and the right to determine her own destiny.

Torab, whose performance won her several Best Actress awards at film festivals worldwide, said the film gave her a platform to use her acting profession to promote the rights of women in the Muslim world.

“The whole story absorbed me, but the most important part was the focus on women’s rights. In ‘I Am Mine Alone’ we see how dire the situation is for the Afghan people, but the struggle for women’s rights is worldwide, and especially in Middle Eastern countries like Iran, and Afghanistan,” Torab said.

Torab said the film roles she has taken have placed her in the middle of the debate over governments in the Middle East forcing Muslim women to wear hijabs. As an actress, she has starred in several films without a hijab, thus she cannot return to Iran, her home country, where she would be punished by the harsh dictates of the mullahs who control the country.

Her desire for self-expression inspired Torab to leave Iran and come to the United States to pursue her acting.

“I came to the USA in 2017 as a PhD student studying performance studies at the University of Hawaii,” Torab said. “Then I moved to Los Angeles and Covid-19 happened.”

Acting roles dried up during the Covid-era shutdown of the film industry. Just when Torab despaired that she had made a mistake moving to Los Angeles, the starring role of Habiba came available.

“It was almost the last weeks of 2021 when Richard Douglas Jensen sent me the script of ‘I Am Mine Alone,’” Torab said.

Torab tested for the part and was cast in the lead role, her first ever starring role on film. Even better, the subject matter of Muslim women’s rights was near and dear to her heart.

“Acting in ‘I Am Mine Alone’ provided the opportunity for me to say, ‘Afghan lives matter’ through my profession,” Torab said “I am grateful to play my first lead role in a feature film on such a very important topic.”

Jensen, who wrote, produced, directed and also stars in the film, told Torab that he wanted to make a movie about Muslim women’s rights and do it in such a way that the film could be seen in Muslim countries. Torab and Jensen worked tirelessly with the film’s technical advisor to make sure the film was culturally correct.

Throughout Torab’s performance as Habiba, she appears in a hijab, except for three brief sequences.
“Habiba is a Shia Muslim, and she follows the rules of the religion. Besides wearing the hijab, Habiba refuses to drink wine. She says, ‘Haram Ast,’ which means that drinking wine in her religion is not allowed,” Torab said.

“I Am Mine Alone”’s culturally sensitive approach won the film numerous awards, including the Human Rights Award at the Madonie (Italy) Film Festival; Best Social Justice film and Best Islamic Film at the Istanbul Film Awards; Best Film on Women at Druk International Film Festvial; Best Film on Women at Black Swan Film Festival; and Best Human Rights Film at Kiez Berlin Film Festival.

“I Am Mine Alone” was released just as the protests by women in Iran over hijabs began. Torab is a strong advocate for her fellow women in Iran, who are demanding the right to choose whether or not to wear the hijab.

“I profoundly ask the right of freedom for every woman to choose wearing or not wearing hijab,” Torab said. “It’s one of the very basic rights that are not considered properly in Iran. You know that last year the government of Iran killed ‘Mahsa Amini’ just because she took off her hijab! After that, during the “Woman, life, freedom” movement, many other young people were killed just because they were asking for their rights. The right of choosing the hijab is just one of a long list of the rights that people don’t have in Iran.

“The matter is not whether to wear or not wear hijab is about having the right to
choose to wear or not wear hijab. There is freedom when wearing or not wearing hijab is a choice instead of an obligation under law,” Torab said.

“I Am Mine Alone” is distributed by ITN Distribution and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime, VUDU and Fawesome.

Richard Jensen
Poverty Row Pictures
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