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
Sadaf Asgari, Behnaz Jafari, Babak Karimi, Fereshteh Sadre Orafaee, Forough Ghajebeglou, Arman Darvish, Fereshteh Hosseini
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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)