Not so most “good lady left bad” as “good lady finished good”, Sonita tracks the eponymous Tehran teen in her healthy query to turn a subsequent Rihanna. World-premiering in foe during Europe’s documentary behemoth IDFA, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s debut feature-length form of a charismatic immature Afghani performer kick good over a hundred rivals to run divided with a event’s Audience Prize.
The design therefore departs Amsterdam a certified crowdpleaser — one which, while violation no new belligerent rigourously or content-wise, does eventually lift some intriguing questions about directorial shortcoming and interference. With a pressingly accepted regard with delicate self-expression amid and opposite a proportions of conventionalist Islam, the Swiss/German/Iranian co-production is guaranteed abundant festival play and appeals as a expected awaiting for arthouse exposure in receptive territories.
Twelve months ago Berit Madsen’s thematically identical Sepideh — about a means Iranian teenage lady who dreams of apropos an astronomer — bent during IDFA before debuting Stateside during Sundance. With a display of Utah as a kind of betrothed land for a globe’s artistic up-and-comers, Sonita looks a protected gamble to repeat that feat.
The story of how Sonita Alizadeh — who during a start of a film has been an undocumented Afghan interloper in Iran for over a decade — ends adult enrolling during Wasatch Academy in a Beehive State is a convoluted, doubtful and moving one. It involves overcoming all demeanour of circumstantial, patrimonial and official hurdles. And it also involves a essential involvement, during some-more than one juncture, of writer-director Ghaem Maghami, who fundamentally pays off Sonita’s implacably realistic mom in sequence to check a clearly unavoidable forced marriage.
Ghaem Maghami’s camera is never any kind of fly on a wall, and a happy Sonita’s chattily spontaneous attribute with a comparison executive (best famous for 2011’s mid-lengther Going Up a Stairs) is clearly a essential component in her personal growth into a super-confident, enthusiastic immature lady she becomes. At a fifty notation mark, however, Ghaem Maghami irrevocably crosses a line from spectator to member when she pays a mom a $2,000 she demands, so entering a kind of domain compared with a Czech documentary doyenne Helena Trestikova.
But since in her best work (such as a astonishing Rene) Trestikova categorically and challengingly foregrounds her possess reliable dilemmas, Ghaem Maghami opts for a some-more willingly celebratory depiction of her heroine-protagonist and keeps a spotlight lerned mostly on Sonita. Engaging, articulate, intelligent and unconditionally excellent in her brazen campaigning opposite forced matrimony in sold and misogynistic Islam in general, it’s a small startling that she should be so fixated on Rihanna of all purpose models — given a Barbadian icon’s argumentative Chris Brown shenanigans over a years.
On a justification presented here, including a entirety of a video-clip done to showcase Sonita’s signature track, she’s a solid in a rough, still really most in a routine of truly anticipating her possess voice. The film is, for all a importance on free-spirited individuality, further some-more required than quite distinctive, with Moritz Denis’s measure underlining piquancy and uplift by means of some really informed beats. Not that Sonita herself will mind, roving this fit car for her variable talents all a approach to a finish of a rainbow: loud, anti, unapologetic.
Production company: TAG/TRAUM
Director / Screenwriter: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Producers: Gerd Haag, Kerstin Krieg
Executive producers: Aline Schmid, Rokhsareh Ghae Maghami
Cinematographers: Behrouz Badrouj, Ali Mohammad Ghasemi, Mohammad Haddadi, Arastoo Givi, Torben Bernard, Parviz Arefi, Ala Mohseni
Editor: Rune Schweitzer
Composer: Moritz Denis
Sales: CATDocs, Paris
No Rating, 91 minutes