At first glance Marjane Satrapi and Chiara Mastroianni would seem quite different.

Satrapi, a quick witted and strong-willed Iranian in exile; Mastroianni, the laid back, charming daughter of French film icon Catherine Deneuve, and a gifted actress in her own right. Yet they’ve come together for the animated feature Persepolis, the true tale of Satrapi’s upbringing in a time of revolution and religious fanaticism.

Of portraying Satrapi, Mastroianni remembers, “Of course when you do a true story and you do it in front of the person who really went through it, it’s kind of some pressure sometimes, but Marjane has a sense of humor and a lot of distance with herself, so she made that aspect very light.”

When speaking of their differences, Mastroianni sees more similarities: “We didn’t have a childhood that different. Until the point where things got more difficult and she had to struggle for her freedom, but it’s not like our cultures are so far away, one from the other.”

That’s the beauty of Persepolis. A truly unifying film, it brings the humanity back to a region that’s often portrayed in caricature.

“Why is it possible to go and attack Iraq?” Satrapi asks. “Because when we talk about Iraq and the Iraqis it is just an abstract notion. It is the terrorists, the fanatics, the middle easterners. You stop thinking that this person is a human being who has parents, kids, who loves to eat ice cream. You dehumanize.”

Speaking of what she hopes the release of Persepolis will achieve in the United States, Satrapi says, “If by watching this movie, the people can say, ‘This enemy, they are just people just like us,’ then probably that is the biggest goal that we can reach.”

Persepolis releases in select theaters Dec. 25.