Sunless Shadows (2019) [Feature]

Iran,Norway (MIFF 2020 )
Director: Mehrdad Oskouei

The very notions of ‘criminal’ and ‘victim’ complicate in this intimate and humanising inquiry into young Iranian women imprisoned for killing their male relatives.

Building on his acclaimed Starless Dreams (MIFF 2016), revered documentarian Mehrdad Oskouei turns the lens on the female inmates of a juvenile detention centre, who are given a chance to take control of their stories – and an agency denied them outside its walls. Alongside observational footage are filmed confessions, some addressed to the women’s mothers and some to their ‘victims’, which illuminate the circumstances behind the crimes and inspire different ways of thinking about culpability, retaliation and justification.

IDFA’s opening-night selection, Sunless Shadows is an elegant, rousing film about women’s camaraderie in captivity and the broader issue of gender inequality in Iran. Ultimately, it asks: what is an architectural prison compared to lifelong entrapment in an abusive patriarchal society?

“Outstanding … Oskouei’s documentary presents an agonizing view of patriarchal power in public and private life, law and custom alike.” – The New YorkerThe very notions of ‘criminal’ and ‘victim’ complicate in this intimate and humanising inquiry into young Iranian women imprisoned for killing their male relatives.

Building on his acclaimed Starless Dreams (MIFF 2016), revered documentarian Mehrdad Oskouei turns the lens on the female inmates of a juvenile detention centre, who are given a chance to take control of their stories – and an agency denied them outside its walls. Alongside observational footage are filmed confessions, some addressed to the women’s mothers and some to their ‘victims’, which illuminate the circumstances behind the crimes and inspire different ways of thinking about culpability, retaliation and justification.

IDFA’s opening-night selection, Sunless Shadows is an elegant, rousing film about women’s camaraderie in captivity and the broader issue of gender inequality in Iran. Ultimately, it asks: what is an architectural prison compared to lifelong entrapment in an abusive patriarchal society?

“Outstanding … Oskouei’s documentary presents an agonizing view of patriarchal power in public and private life, law and custom alike.” – The New YorkerThe very notions of ‘criminal’ and ‘victim’ complicate in this intimate and humanising inquiry into young Iranian women imprisoned for killing their male relatives.

Building on his acclaimed Starless Dreams (MIFF 2016), revered documentarian Mehrdad Oskouei turns the lens on the female inmates of a juvenile detention centre, who are given a chance to take control of their stories – and an agency denied them outside its walls. Alongside observational footage are filmed confessions, some addressed to the women’s mothers and some to their ‘victims’, which illuminate the circumstances behind the crimes and inspire different ways of thinking about culpability, retaliation and justification.

IDFA’s opening-night selection, Sunless Shadows is an elegant, rousing film about women’s camaraderie in captivity and the broader issue of gender inequality in Iran. Ultimately, it asks: what is an architectural prison compared to lifelong entrapment in an abusive patriarchal society?

“Outstanding … Oskouei’s documentary presents an agonizing view of patriarchal power in public and private life, law and custom alike.” – The New Yorker

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