March 10th: 9:30 Ava
Director: Sadaf Foroughi
IRAN/CANADA/QATAR, 2017 Farsi w/ English subtitles 103 minutes
Principal Cast: Mahour Jabbari, Bahar Nouhian, Leili Rashidi, Vahid Aghapour, Shayesteh Sajadi, Houman Hoursan, Sarah Alimoradi
In Tehran, upper-middle-class teen Ava abides by a strict routine of school, violin lessons, and curfew. When Ava’s mistrustful and overprotective mother questions her relationship with a boy — going so far as to consult a gynecologist — Ava is stunned by the outrageous privacy violation. The incident seriously diminishes trust between the girl and her parents and teachers, which in turn bleeds into all spheres of her life. What’s more, the tightly controlled environment around Ava, who is forbidden to date, go out, or pursue her more artistic aspirations, foments feelings of suffocation and isolation. That her parents — including her sympathetic but powerless father — seem more concerned with social optics than their daughter’s welfare only escalates Ava’s rebellious behaviour, triggering serious and life-altering choices.
Sadaf Foroughi vividly renders her lead character’s internal turmoil while exposing the snowball effect of her family’s shaming. Each frame is stunningly composed with scenes offering a searing critique of the cage our protagonist finds herself in, all while creating one of the strongest, most richly developed female leads we’ve seen this year. With Ava, winner of the Discovery Award at TIFF ’17, Foroughi has established herself as a cinematic force.
“Ava’s rebellion is against more than her parents’ mistrust; it’s about the cage of societal norms in Iran that stifles female creativity and self-expression. The clarity with which Foroughi presents the situ- ation makes it easy for international audiences to follow the unfolding drama with its rising stakes.” –Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter