In Tehran, upper-middle-class teen Ava (Mahour Jabbari) abides by a strict routine of school, violin lessons, and curfew. When Ava’s mistrustful and overprotective mother (Bahar Noohian) questions her relationship with a boy—going so far as to consult a gynecologist—Ava is stunned by the outrageous privacy violation. The incident seriously diminishes trust between the girl and her parents and teachers, which in turn bleeds into all spheres of her life. What is more, the tightly controlled environment around Ava, who is forbidden to date, go out, or pursue her more artistic aspirations, foments feelings of suffocation and isolation. That her parents—including her sympathetic but powerless father (Vahid Aghapoor)—seem more concerned with social optics than their daughter’s welfare only escalates Ava’s rebellious behaviour, triggering serious and life-altering choices.
Sadaf Foroughi vividly renders her lead character’s internal turmoil while exposing the snowball effect of her family’s shaming. Each frame is stunningly composed with scenes offering a searing critique of the cage our protagonist finds herself in, all while creating one of the strongest, most richly developed female leads we have seen this year. With Ava, winner of the Discovery Award at TIFF ’17 and winner of Best First Feature at the Canadian Screen Awards, Foroughi has established herself as a cinematic force.
“Ava’s rebellion is against more than her parents’ mistrust; it’s about the cage of societal norms in Iran that stifles female creativity and self-expression. The clarity with which Foroughi presents the situation makes it easy for international audiences to follow the unfolding drama with its rising stakes.” (Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter)
“Powerful and surprising, this first feature from Iranian writer-director Sadaf Foroughi tells a familiar story of teen angst and parental control.” (Chris Knight, National Post)