2016 Sundance Docs in Focus: SONITA

sonitaThe first of today’s three Sundance world doc profiles: From Germany/Iran/Switzerland, SONITA, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s intimate collaboration with an Iran-based Afghani teenager and her fledgling hip hop dreams.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition

Sundance Program Description:

As a female rapper in conservative Iran, Sonita’s talents are a liability. But Sonita insists on dreaming big. Her beats are as solid as stones, her rhymes are fierce, and her videos are a piercing howl against the constant injustice, fear, and sexism women must endure. It was only a matter of time before her charismatic presence and spirited eyes changed her fortune, and with the help of acclaimed director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, she is suddenly offered a scholarship that leads her on a dangerous trip back to Afghanistan and ultimately to Utah. All the while, Sonita’s conservative mother insists she must be married off soon, at a price, and threatens to derail Sonita’s life at its most critical juncture.

An intimate portrait of creativity and womanhood, SONITA highlights the rarely seen intricacies and shifting contrasts of Iranian society through the lens of an artist who is defining the next generation.

Some Background:
Director/Co-producer: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Ghaem Maghami makes her feature doc debut with this film, following the acclaimed mid-length GOING UP THE STAIRS (IDFA, Sheffield).

Producer: Gerd Haag; Co-producers: Aline Schmid and Kerstin Krieg
TAG/TRAUM’s Haag’s extensive producing credits include two Sundance alums: THE SHORT LIFE OF JOSÉ ANTONIO GUTIERREZ (2006) and CHILD MURDERS (1994). He is joined on this project with his colleague Krieg, while her fellow co-producer, Intermezzo Films’ Schmid, has recently produced HORIZONTES (Locarno, Karlovy Vary).

Editor: Rune Schweitzer
Schweitzer is best known for cutting the Locarno award-winning doc MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE and the fiction film 32A (Berlin).

Why You Should Watch:
Having already picked up an audience award upon its world premiere at IDFA, Ghaem Maghami’s film – and its outspoken young subject – clearly resonates with viewers. The director establishes a connection with Sonita that extends beyond the traditional filmmaker/subject relationship, proving truly transformative.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2016 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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