Location: Bartos Screening Room
Dir. Mehrdad Oskouei. 2016. 76 mins. In Persian with English subtitles.
At a juvenile detention center on the outskirts of Tehran, troubled teenage girls seek comfort and joy from one another, and contemplate their uncertain futures. Director Mehrdad Oskouei, one of Iran’s most prominent filmmakers, spent seven years securing access to this all-female facility, and he makes the awkwardness of being a male filmmaker in their environment a poignant and powerful aspect of his project. As the New Year approaches, the girls bond, and reveal—with playfully disarming honesty—the circumstances and sometimes shocking acts that resulted in their incarceration. Yet even as they rehabilitate and recover, they face dangers outside of the prison walls, even and at times especially within their own families. With startling frankness and “the conceptual rigor and emotional directness associated with the best of Iranian cinema” (Variety), Starless Dreams delivers an unforgettable portrayal of innocence lost and found.