Art And Culture

FIPRESCI Discovery Prize for Foroughi Film

‘Ava’ is a hopeful story about a young woman finding her voice and its lead role, played by the 17-year-old Mahour Jabbari, is one of the strongest and most richly developed female leads
Screenshots from ‘Ava’Screenshots from ‘Ava’

The Iranian-Canadian drama ‘Ava’, written and directed by Iranian filmmaker Sadaf Foroughi, won the FIPRESCI Discovery Prize at the 42nd Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) held September 7-17.

‘Ava’, which is Foroughi’s feature film debut, also received an Honorable Mention in the category of the Best Canadian First Feature Film, ISNA reported.

The 100-minute film is about Ava, a 16-year-old girl’s relationship with her family that is challenged after her mother takes her to a gynecologist.

Ava’s life is dictated by rules. Coming of age, she faces pressure to conform to the expectations of her parents, her school, and friends. When Ava learns that her parents were once lawless themselves, she begins to rebel against social norms.

  Hopeful Story

The director vividly renders her lead character’s internal turmoil. Each frame is stunningly composed with scenes offering a searing critique of the cage the protagonist finds herself in. “It is a hopeful story about a young woman finding her voice,” Foroughi said. The lead role, Ava, is one of the strongest and most richly developed female leads.

The cast includes Mahour Jabbari, Vahid Aghapoor, Leili Rashidi, arnian Akhtari, Sarah Alimoradi, Houman Hoursan, Shayesteh Sajadi and Bahar Nouhian.

Born in Tehran, Sadaf Foroughi holds a master’s degree in film studies from the University of Provence in Marseille, France, and a PhD in the philosophy of cinema. She is the director and writer of several short films including ‘Féminin, Masculin’ and ‘The Kid and the Kite’.

  Visa Ban

Earlier during the festival, the film saw its two actresses blocked by immigration authorities from entering Canada to help promote their film.

Visas for 17-year-old Mahour Jabbari and 18-year-old Shayesteh Sajadi were denied ahead of the film’s world premiere at the festival.

“I felt disappointed because I wish I could celebrate our premiere accompanied by my actresses,” Foroughi told The Hollywood Reporter.

“We would love to have them celebrate their premiere of Ava with us in Toronto.  Although they cannot be here with us, their voices and talent will shine through their film,” a festival spokesperson said in a statement.

The International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) is an association of national organizations of professional film critics and film journalists from around the world for “the promotion and development of film culture and for the safeguarding of professional interests.”

It was founded in June 1930 in Brussels, Belgium and has members in more than 50 countries worldwide. FIPRESCI often gives awards during several film festivals for what they see as enterprising film making.

Before the festival, ‘Ava’ had already been picked up for distribution by Canada’s biggest independent distributor, Mongrel International.

At the ‘Ava’ première on Friday night, TIFF Canadian film programmer Magali Simard introduced Foroughi as a great filmmaker in future.


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