Royahaye Dame Sobh (Starless Dreams)
13th October 2016 8.45pm at ICA Cinema
16th October 2016 6.15pm at Curzon Soho
Documentary filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei waited for seven years to get permission to make Royahaye Dame Sobh (Starless Dreams). The long wait paid off and now allows us a rare and fascinating insight into life inside a juvenile rehabilitation centre in Iran. The film follows a group of young women who have been shunned by society after falling into crime and drugs. Each girl tells their story in their own candid way, as we learn about their complicated pasts.
Inside the centre, away from the rest of the judgemental world, there are many tears and regrets, but there is also much singing and laughter. As Oskouei gets to know the group, he is able to beautifully capture moments where they can briefly forget about their harrowing experiences and simply enjoy each other’s company and support. The feature also reflects on some of the difficulties of life as a young girl in Iran and the way in which society treats women in the judicial system. A particularly thought-provoking scene shows the girls receiving a talk about “human rights”, in which several raise their hands with different questions like “Why is a man’s blood worth more than a woman’s?” and “When people wonder if God is a man or a woman, why does nobody think that God could be a woman?” Each young lady has their own unanswered questions about what it is to be female in the world today, and Royahaye Dame Sobh illustrates this notion of social divide in a very poignant way.
Alongside their views about life and equality, the girls share their hopes for adulthood and their feelings about one day leaving the rehabilitation centre. As they discuss their passions, their dreams and their relationships, Oskouei reminds us that despite their crimes, they themselves have often been wronged by a system that is much more powerful than them. With many of the females coming from painful family backgrounds involving abuse, when the day of “freedom” finally arrives and they are discharged from the centre, there are mixed emotions and fears about returning home. Their futures look dark and uncertain. Once they leave the centre, they are on their own. We may never know of the fates of these young women, but Royahaye Dame Sobh demonstrates just how important it is for their stories to be told.
Royahaye Dame Sobh (Starless Dreams) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Royahaye Dame Sobh (Starless Dreams) here: