Impact | Youth | VIFF Impact | High School Outreach
The dismaying practice of selling teenagers into marriage is thrust into the damning spotlight in Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s essential documentary. An Afghan refugee in Iran, 14-year-old Sonita aspires to be a hip-hop superstar like Rihanna. But such fantasies can’t fully distract her from the grim reality that she and her teenage friends all have prices on their heads. During breaks at school, she and her fellow refugees don’t talk about boys or pop culture trends, but how much their parents will get for them. When Sonita’s brother requires a dowry to pay for his own bride, her family decides that selling her is the best way to secure the necessary funds.
Sonita is also the story of the Iranian filmmaker Ghaem Maghami, whose determination not to intervene and let the story unfold organically is routinely challenged by the unfair obstacles the young rapper is confronted with as she desperately attempts to escape her fate. Consequently, few documentaries are this tense, with Sonita facing life-altering decisions at every turn. She persists despite unthinkable odds and finds her true voice as an activist who refuses to be silenced.
“Sonita puts a defiant face and expressive voice to a resistance that needs to be as loud as possible.”—Nick Allen, RogerEbert.com
Grand Jury Prize, Audience Award, Sundance 16; Audience Award, IDFA 15