Mohsen Makhmalbaf, born in 1957, was revered as the prototypical "Islamic" artist up until about 1990. He grew up in a conservative Moslem home, became politically active in opposing the Shah at a young age, and turned to artistic pursuits only after the revolution, as a religious duty. Makhmalbaf's short stories and novels have reached a large audience inside Iran. Through his filmmaking, he has established his reputation abroad as a significant talent. Makhmalbaf's gradual distancing from a strict definition of "Islamic" art can be measured partly in terms of his increasingly frank treatment of women's sexuality and his refusal to continue placing women characters in clichéd political roles.