Narrative Competition
(France , Iran , Lebanon, 2008, 82 mins)
In Farsi & Arabic with English subtitles
US Premiere
Screenwriter(s) : Sabine Gemayel
Directed By: Sabine El Gemayel

Cast: Roya Nownahali, Shahab Hosseini, Hengameh Ghaziani, Mobina Ayenedar, Amir Aghai, Sadegh Safai, Fatemeh Motamed Aria
Producers: Jean Brehat, Rachid Bouchareb
Director of Photography: Bahram Badakhshani
Editor: Bahram Dehghani
Music: Fardin Khalatbari
Co Producer: Fereshteh Taerpour

Niloofar, a 12-year-old Iraqi girl, dreams of reading and writing, but she lives in a village where education is only for boys. Her mother, a well-known midwife, insists that Niloofar become her apprentice. While assisting her mother during a delivery, Niloofar meets a feminist woman who undertakes to educate her in secret. Unfortunately, in exchange of a field of palm trees, Niloofar's father promises her in marriage to an older man once she becomes a woman. Horrified, Niloofar does everything in her power to postpone her first period. Destiny catches up with her, but she continues to hide her womanhood from her community, until one day, the truth is revealed. Rather than live in a marriage without love, Niloofar runs away with her Uncle. Shocked, her family considers itself dishonored and sends her stepbrother to track her down. Award-winning editor Sabine El Gemayel (THE OLIVER HARVEST) proves herself into an accomplished director with her debut film, produced by Jean Brehat and Rachid Bouchareb (DAYS OF GLORY, LITTLE SENEGAL) The captivating young lead Mobina Aynehdar gives a rich performance, demonstrating an emotional range rarely seen in young performers. As it artfully combines the modern and the past, the poignant and the tragic, NILOOFAR emerges as a potent film about growing up female in a place where inequality rules.

–Shaz Bennett

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