“Everybody has something to say, of course! But the art is not about having something to say…the art is about how you say this thing,” muses Iranian film director and cartoonist Marjane Satrapi, the subject of the latest chapter of director Chiara Clemente‘s film series Beginnings presented by Nowness. The series allows five Paris-based creative leaders a portal through which to discuss their early inspirations and the experiences that shaped their work.

With Satrapi’s statement in mind, the way in which she chooses to “say this thing”—this core essence of her message—is with a searing passion, eccentricity and the arresting level of engagement which is evident in both her lively and animated speech and her body of work.

The complex struggle of the Iranian people is at the centre of Satrapi’s films and cartoons which draw heavily on her experiences growing up amidst the turmoil of the topple of the repressive Shah regime and the equally restrictive governance of the Islamic Republic which followed. Whilst the subject matter is heavy, the delivery is engaging even to those not politically well versed, perhaps due to the unusual medium of animation and cartoon adopted.

Personally Satrapi is equally unpredictable, describing herself as “like a monk” minutes after she affirms her Aunt’s belief that “the role of the mistress is the best role”. Perhaps all that can be confirmed about this enigma is that no one can claim she has disappointed the woman who bore her, undoubtedly fulfilling her mother’s greatest desire for her daughter’s life—”That I would be the best, no matter what I did.”