Taking place on the once war torn borders of Iraq and Iran the film tells the story of Niloofar (Mobina Aynehdar), a twelve year old girl who has high ambitions to learn how to read and write and become a doctor due to the teachings of a local modern woman, Banoo (Fatemeh Motamed Aria). Her mother, on the other hand, Salmah (Roya Nownahali) a midwife, insists she follows her footsteps.
The story becomes more complicated when Sheikh Abbas (Tooraj Faramarzian) approaches Niloofar’s father, Abdoullah (Sadegh Safai) and asks for his daughter’s hand in marriage as soon as she becomes a woman. At first he respectfully desists but is swayed by the sheik’s offering of land and forthcoming grandchildren inheritance.
When Niloofar hears about her fate she does everything in her power to prolong her childhood freedom and classes by concealing her periods. After two years she is found out and she runs away. Her family feeling dishonored sends her stepbrother to track her down.
Director and writer Sabine El Gemayel shows the emotional oppression of men within the Muslim community. During the Q and A at the screening she revealed some of the difficulties she sustained through the filming. One example was the original actor chosen to play the role of Niloofar bowed out at last moment due to the script conflicts with her beliefs. Local Resident ‘Mobina Aynehdar’ was found after a two-day whirlwind of interviews of local girls who instead of readings were asked questions to see they would be able to complete the role with no compromises.
American audiences will particularly appeal to the film. With it’s beautiful cinematography and a subtle ethnic soundtrack it beckons for repeated viewings as well as show a different side of the Muslim ideals