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Iranian writer/director Sadaf Foroughi received an honourable mention and the FIPRESCI Prize at TIFF for her tale of teenage rebellion in a strict Muslim society.

The titular Ava is 17 years old, living in Tehran with her well-to-do parents, studying music and enjoying her high-school classes. She’s a model student, and a model daughter. But when her parents’ restrictive rules and over-protective behaviour cross a line, Ava starts to push back. To make matters worse, the headmistress at Ava’s school asks fellow students to snitch on anyone not toeing the line.

Basing the story on her own adolescent experience, Foroughi has crafted a spectacular debut that’s both visually exciting and politically unflinching. The pressure points of Ava’s rebellion may be minor to Western eyes, but in the socially conservative, patriarchal society of Iran, they can lead to life-altering outcomes. Always gripping and unpredictable, Ava features an extraordinary performance from Mahour Jabbari in the title role, with Bahar Noohian as Ava’s mother and Leili Rashidi as the school principal equally memorable. A searingly candid coming-of-age tale, the film establishes its director as a powerful new cinematic presence with a distinct voice.

"This is one of the most thoughtful films about the female experience to debut in recent years, and should be mandatory viewing for anyone eager to engage with confidently-made, skillful art cinema." – The Playlist