An artist depicts her Iranian childhood

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I recently watched a screening of Persepolis, an animated film based on the 2003 graphic-novel memoir of Marjane Satrapi, an Iranian woman who grew up during the Islamic Revolution. The film, which opens on Christmas day in New York and Los Angeles, was entirely hand-drawn in dramatic black-and-white images that create an indelible sense of place and emotional complexity—both to Satrapi's story and the country of Iran as a whole. (Watch the trailer below for a taste.)

To me, the film is a welcome reminder that Iran is more than the sum of its leaders, even if U.S. news reports often ignore the society's deep and complex cultural roots. (The title, Persepolis, comes from the name of the 6th-century Persian capital that Alexander the Great later destroyed.) You may not want to travel to Iran any time soon, but both this film and the country deserve a closer look.

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