Sunless Shadows

Original title: Sunless Shadows
Type: Documentary

CREW
Written and Directed by………….Mehrdad Oskouei
Director of Photography………….Mehdi Azadi
Editing…………………………………..Amir Adibparvar
Music…………………………………….Afshin Azizi
Sound Designer……………………..Mahmoud Khorsand
Sound Recorder……………………..Parsa Karimi
Production Manager……………….Vahid Hajiloei
Executive producer………………..Siavash Jamali

Producer : Mehrdad Oskouei
Production Company : Oskouei Film Production

Co-producer : Carsten Aanonsen
Co-Production Company : Indie Film
Involved TV Channels : NRK (Norway)

Supported by:
* Development and post-production fund of IDFA bertha fund, Netherlands
* Bertha Foundation, UK
* Sundance Documentary fund, USA
* Sørfond, Norwegian South Film Fund

Shooting format : 2K
Screening format : DCP
Sound : 5.1
Ratio : 16:9
Original version : Persian
Subtitled in : English
Running Time : 76min
Year : 2019

Documentary – Colour – 76min – 2019 – Iran / Norway

Logline:
We follow the lives of a group of teenage girls serving time in an Iranian juvenile detention center for the murder of a male family member. With the camera as witness, they reveal their innermost thoughts, feelings and doubts.

Synopsis:
In an Iranian juvenile detention center, a group of adolescent girls are serving time for having murdered their father, husband or another male family member. Filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei managed to build up a remarkable relationship with these inmates, whose frank conversations and playful interactions he observes, and who gradually open up about the consequences of, and sometimes the reasons for, their terrible act.
Mehrdad occasionally leaves them alone with the camera, allowing it to become a means for them to address both their victims and their accomplices, three of the girls having killed their fathers with the help of their mothers. The mothers await execution elsewhere.
Unlike their mothers’ somber pall, the atmosphere in the girls’ living quarters, shared cell with teen-bedroom feel, classroom and grass-lined courtyard where a brood of ducklings scamper about, seems almost carefree. It gradually becomes apparent, however, that apart from being a prison, this closed, all-female environment is also a shelter from an aggressively male-dominated society.

Director’s statement:
This film focuses on the act of murder. Not so much the ‘how’, but more the ‘why.’ Iranian women who murder their husbands show very little remorse for their homicides. Even after years in prison they still believe they were in the right. But why would a mother kill her husband with her daughter’s help? What had happened in their lives to bring them to such an act? There are those who say they should have got divorced instead of killing their husbands, but when divorce is decided by the husband with no say for the wife, what then?
In this film we see murder through the eyes of the murderers, the mother and daughter. I wanted to scrutinize their act of killing from various perspectives, understand their reasons and find out whether the act itself was a difficult task. Do they carry the burden of their deed for years on end?
I have been filming at Centers for Correction and Rehabilitation for 12 years. Both my father and grandfather were political prisoners and, as a consequence, prisons and prisoners have always fascinated me. What’s more, when I was 15 I attempted suicide after my father’s third bankruptcy. Suicide strangely makes one both murderer and murdered. That is perhaps why I feel the need to delve into the motivations of those who kill and try to elucidate them.

Festival début:
*-32nd IDFA, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, The Netherlands. November 20 – December 01, 2019.

Award:
* Winner of : *Best Director* Award ‘Mehrdad Oskouei‘ at the 32nd IDFA, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2019.