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Lady of Roses

There are some people who have had such a varied and interesting life that any single part of it can be made the subject of a fascinating documentary film. The late Homayoun Sanatizadeh can undoubtedly be included in this category. He was a cultured man, a scholar, translator, entrepreneur, and one of the pioneers of modern publishing in Iran who, unlike his western counterparts, did not achieve fame and fortune in his homeland.

About thirty years ago, with the valuable assistance and cooperation of his equally enterprising wife, Shahindokht, he decided to venture into a completely different field. They started to grow roses and set up a small traditional workshop for producing rose essence in an area outside Kerman where opium poppies were grown. The project was dogged with difficulties, opposition and mishaps at every step. First, the farmers and inhabitants were strongly opposed to the idea of replacing the opium poppy with roses which they believed would be much less profitable.

The resilient couple finally overcame the opposition, and the first rose saplings were duly planted. But within a short time Homayoun was arrested and spent five years in jail accused of having founded the Franklin Publications and publishing pro-American books. Shahindokht was left managing the enterprise singlehanded – a task that she accomplished successfully through hard work and resilience. The success story continued after her husband’s release, and within a few years their small workshop turned into a large factory producing the best quality rose extract and oil, used in cosmetics and perfumeries throughout the world. Sadly, she lost her life in a car crash six years ago, but not before she saw the fruits of their endeavours. 

This fascinating story is the subject of a film produced by the documentary film maker, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. Entitled ‘The Lady of the Roses’, the film tells us the story of a dream come true – the dream of creating a vast rose garden in the dry and hot climate of Kerman, to replace poppies with roses and opium with rosewater, and to provide employment for 1500 families in a deprived area. In this multimedia report, Mr.Mirtahmasb describes various scenes of his film, and takes us to see the stunning rose fields and the process of extracting the essence of roses. 

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