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Yalda, A Night for Forgiveness Image

Yalda, A Night for Forgiveness

Contemporary World Cinema | Panorama

Massoud Bakhshi’s drama - a prize winner at Sundance in January - uses real-life Iranian TV for inspiration: it presents to us a live talk show on which a convicted killer must beg for her life. Maryam (Sadaf Asgari) has been found guilty of murdering her much older husband. Though the details of the crime are ambiguous, the country’s law has decreed that her fate is in the hands of the victim’s daughter, Mona (Behnaz Jafari). As the film begins, the two women are set to confront each other before the nation, but both are reluctant - they know more than they’re telling about the crime. As the moment of truth approaches, the mystery deepens and suspense ratchets up…

Both a thriller and an act of social protest, Yalda explores gender, sexual, and class politics in contemporary Iran. Bakhshi shows a sure hand with his actors, especially the two leads, and he generates a sense of human vitality that gives the film a strong moral power.

"A clever, suspenseful exposé of Sharia law." - Deborah Young, Hollywood Reporter

Grand Jury Prize, World Dramatic Competition, Sundance 20

Canadian premiere
Director Icon Director
Massoud Bakhshi

Sadaf Asgari, Behnaz Jafari, Babak Karimi, Fereshteh Sadre Orafaee, Forough Ghajebeglou, Arman Darvish, Fereshteh Hosseini
Producer Jacques Bidou, Marianne Dumoulin
Screenwriter Massoud Bakhshi
Cinematographer Julian Atanassov
Editor Jacques Comets
Production Company JBA production, Niko Film, Close Up Films, Amour Fou Luxembourg, Schortcut Films, Tita B Productions, Ali Mosaffa Productions
Source Pyramide Films
France/Germany/Switzerland/Luxembourg/Lebanon/Iran 2020 89 min. Farsi with English subtitles Review 1 | Review 2 | Trailer


Please note that VIFF 2020 online films can be viewed in British Columbia only.

Bakhshi, Massoud headshot


Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1972, Massoud Bakhshi has worked as a film critic, scriptwriter and producer, before making 12 documentaries and short films. His first feature film A Respectable Family was selected for the Cannes Film Festival 2012 (Quinzaine des réalisateurs). Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness is his second feature, showed at the Sundance Film Festival 2020 and at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival Generation 14+ Competition 2020.

A Respectable Family (2012)

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