Not Without My Daughter

Not Without My Daughter
Not Without My Daughter

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian Gilbert
Produced by Harry J. Ufland
Written by Betty Mahmoody
William Hoffer
David W. Rintels
Starring Sally Field
Alfred Molina
Sheila Rosenthal
Roshan Seth
Sarah Badel
Mony Rey
Georges Corraface
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Peter Hannan
Editing by Terry Rawlings
Ofer Bedarshi (video)
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) January 11, 1991
Running time 116 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $22 million
Box office $14,789,113

Not Without My Daughter is a film released in 1991 depicting the escape of American citizen Betty Mahmoody and her daughter from her husband in Iran. The film was shot in the United States and Israel, and the main characters are played by Sally Field and Alfred Molina. Sheila Rosenthal and Roshan Seth also co-star as Mahtob Mahmoody and Houssein the smuggler, respectively.



An Iranian immigrant in the USA, Sayed Bozorg Mahmoody travels from the United States to Iran with his U.S.-born wife (Betty) and daughter (Mahtob) to visit his family. Once there, Moody gradually reveals to Betty that he wants to remain in Iran, thinking that it would be a better place for the family. Betty disagrees and wants to leave with her daughter, although Moody is determined not to let that happen. Over time, Moody becomes increasingly unstable and violent, taking advantage of Iranian laws to strike and terrorize his wife and daughter. Betty subsequently discovers that if Moody divorced her, under the laws of Iran, he would get sole custody of Mahtob. With no other choice, Betty takes Mahtob and they flee together, overland to Turkey and then back to America with the aid of people-smugglers.



The movie was based on a book with the same title, written by Betty Mahmoody and William Hoffer and based on Betty's version of events. The screenplay was written by David W. Rintels. The film was directed by Brian Gilbert and filmed at GG Studios, Neve Ilan, Israel and in Atlanta, Georgia.[citation needed]


Box office

The movie debuted poorly and grossed less than $15 million in ticket sales.[1]

Controversy and criticism

Not Without My Daughter has been criticized for its alleged misrepresentation of Muslim Iranians and of Iranian Islamic culture.[2] Caryn James of The New York Times, in a review, states that the movie "exploits the stereotype of the demonic is an utter artistic failure, and its reliance on cultural stereotype is a major cause". Moody, she writes, seems to be a "pure product of his culture, a mysterious, misogynist Easterner...the film views fanaticism as the Iranian national character".[3] A review in the Los Angeles Times described the movie as "unbalanced and distorted" which "fails to distinguish between the (Iranian) state and the people". [2] In his review, film critic Roger Ebert noted the film made "moral and racial assertions that are deeply troubling" and that it "does not play fair with its Muslim characters. If a movie of such a vitriolic and spiteful nature were to be made in America about any other ethnic group, it would be denounced as racist and prejudiced."[4]

In response to Not Without My Daughter, a Finnish documentary, titled Without My Daughter was made by director Alexis Kouros. It is composed of interviews with Dr. Mahmoody regarding his life in Iran and attempts to contact his daughter Mahtob again. Kouros said that the aim of the 90-minute documentary was to "show the lies in the American film and present the real story behind" what turned into an acrimonious custody battle for Mahtob Mahmoody.[5]

The movie was released to generally mixed reviews, as Sally Field was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress, while Sheila Rosenthal won the Young Artist Award for Best Actress.


  1. ^ "Home Alone in 9th Week as No. 1 Film : Movies: 'Godfather Part III' takes dramatic slide from second to sixth place in its third week out. 'Awakenings' is in second.". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-01. 
  2. ^ a b Seeing and Believing: Religion and Values in the Movies‎ - by Margaret R. Miles, p71
  3. ^ Caryn James, Embrace the Stereotype; Kiss the Movie Goodbye, The New York Times, January 27, 1991, Accessed August 15, 2009.
  4. ^ Not Without My Daughter (review),, January 11, 1991, Accessed August 15, 2009.
  5. ^ Finnish documentary counters anti-Iran propaganda in US film

External links

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