Ajyal Film Festival 2024

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Ajyal Competition

للترجمة العربية اضغط على

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami / Feature Documentary / Iran, Germany, Switzerland / 2015 / 90 min / Colour / DCP2K
In Afghan, English / Arabic, English subtitles
Interests: Women, Documentary, Music, Social Issues, Youth
Gulf Premiere


In Tehran, where it is illegal for women to sing, 18-year-old Afghan refugee Sonita dreams of being a world-famous rapper – to sing what’s in her heart and be heard by people everywhere, as she puts it. In her daydreams, she is the daughter of Michael Jackson and Rihanna; in reality, she struggles to help her family make ends meet, the only audience for her rapping talent is the girls who frequent a refugee shelter and her hopes are relegated to a scrapbook.

On top of this, while Sonita searches for assistance and support to make her first recording, her family hatches a plan to send her back to Afghanistan and marry her off for $9,000 – money her brother needs to pay for his own bride. For the hopeful, headstrong teenager, this future marriage represents a fate worse than death and so she fights against the cultural tradition that will destroy her greatest wishes.

In following Sonita’s story, filmmaker Rokhsareh Maghami becomes intimately involved in the young woman’s life. By observing the sickening situation Sonita is placed in – she is essentially being sold – the director, like the viewer, starts to take on the responsibility for salvaging a future that will otherwise be erased. Winner of the Grand Jury and Audience Awards for Best World Documentary at Sundance this year, ‘Sonita’ is urgent, powerful and deeply moving cinema.

About the Directors

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami was born in Tehran and studied Filmmaking and Animation at Tehran Art University. Her published essays and research include the book ‘Animated Documentary: A New Way to Express’, published in Persian in 2009. Her films include the short documentary works ‘Pigeon Fanciers’ (2000), ‘A Loud Solitude’ (2010), ‘Born 20 Minutes Late’ (2010), ‘Going Up the Stairs’ (2011), and the animated documentary ‘Cyanosis’ (2007). ‘Sonita’ is her second feature-length documentary.


Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
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Sales Company
Production Company
Tag/Traum, Intermezzo Films
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