Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Germany, Switzerland, Iran | 2015 | 91 mins | English, Farsi | Indian Premiere | Director Attending





Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s challenging documentary follows the story of Sonita Alizadeh, a displaced 14-year-old from Afghanistan who works as a cleaner at a refugee centre in Iran. With dreams of becoming a superstar rapper, Sonita spends her free time performing for the kids at the centre or superimposing her face on to cutouts of Barbadian singer Rihanna. But Sonita doesn’t rap about love or fame—rather, her defiant lyrics describe life as a teenager at odds with Afghanistan’s patriarchal norms. When her mother makes a surprise visit, it becomes clear she plans to take Sonita home to sell as a bride. Here, director Rokhsareh comes up with a controversial offer—an offer that calls into question the role of the documentary filmmaker but also works in Sonita’s favour. To witness the young prodigy’s three-year rise from timid rapper to empowered activist—signalled at the moment she takes control of the camera herself— is both thrilling and uplifting.


  • Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

    Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

    Born in the Iranian capital Tehran, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami holds a BA in cinema and an MA in animation from Tehran Art University. Her studies led to the publication of a book, Animated Documentary: A New Way to Express. Rokhsareh’s documentary shorts include Pigeon Fanciers (2000), the animation Cyanosis (2007), A Loud Solitude (2010), Born 20 Minutes Late (2010) and Going Up the Stairs (2011). Speaking about the protagonist of her first feature, she says, “I met Sonita through my cousin who is a social worker working in a non-profit to support child labourers. Sonita’s ambitious dreams and her self-confidence in spite of the horrible situation she was living in drew me to her story.”




Sundance Film Festival 2016: Grand Jury Prize for Word Cinema—Documentary and Audience Award for World Cinema--Documentary
Sheffield International Documentary Festival 2016: Sheffield Youth Jury Award
Sarasota Film Festival 2016: Audience Award for Best in World Cinema, Jury Prize Nominee for Best Documentary Feature
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2016: Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award
International Documentary Festival 2015—Amsterdam: IDFA Audience Award