From: Gulb Marketing [gulbmarketing_at_kent_dot_ac_dot_uk]

Sent: 08 November 2016 14:25

Subject: Sonita at Gulbenkian



Issued 7 Nov






"Triumphant...endlessly surprising"

Nigel M. Smith, The Guardian


"Everyone falls in love with Sonita in this film?"

Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily



SONITA by Iranian director, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

SUNDANCE Grand Jury Prize WINNER and SUNDANCE Audience Award WINNER and most recently WINNER at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Youth Jury Award

Gulbenkian, Canterbury


Undocumented Afghan refugee, living in Iran, Sonita dreams of being a famous rapper. Her dreams are dangerous: the Iranian government doesn't allow girls to sing, and her family expect her to become a teenage bride. Rapping defiantly about her experiences in a sexist and repressive environment, Sonita is an activist for the ages, her spirit, attitude and resolve captured in this powerful documentary by Ghaem Maghami.


Screening at Gulbenkian for 2 nights only on Sunday 20 & Wednesday 23 November.


Sonita / Iran, Germany, Switzerland / 2015 /  Dir. Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami / 90min / Cert TBC / General Release: 28 October 2016


Sonita Alizadeh wants to be like Rihanna. As an undocumented Afghan refugee in Tehran, their worlds couldn't be more different. 


When she isn't working (as a cleaner at a centre for refugees), Sonita is rapping and performing anywhere she safely can and pasting her face onto pictures of the Barbadian singer, songwriter and international superstar. For a girl in Iran though, this is dangerous. Sonita's ambitions and dreams are dangerous. The Iranian government forbids girls from singing, and tradition dictates that Sonita become a teenage bride, for which her family would receive $9,000, allowing them to buy her brother a wife. Women as goods to be bought and sold inspires and feeds Sonita's creativity and songwriting seen throughout the film.


Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami not only documents Sonita's struggle over three years, but arguably plays a participatory role in Sonita's dreams being realised. Becoming a participant rarely seen from documentary filmmakers, Ghaem Maghami, ironically ends up paying Sonita's mother to stop her being sold into child marriage there is a definitive shift in the relationship from observer and chronicler, to guardian and saviour.


With attitude, determination and sass in spades, Sonita strives to achieve her dreams in this award-winning, heart-warming and all round crowd-pleasing documentary which shines a light into the homes and lives of Afghan and Iranian individuals, too often seen as just numbers in a news report. This award-winning documentary will inspire and touch your heart while also shining a light into the homes and lives of Afghan and Iranian individuals, too often seen as just numbers in a news report.


"Puts a defiant face and expressive voice to a resistance that needs to be as loud as possible."


Sonita is the fourth film to receive support under the New Release Strategy - a new BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) scheme to support the distribution of some of the best new films from across the globe, which aims to ensure that they are seen by more people in more cinemas throughout the UK.


Sonita (PG) will be at Gulbenkian on Sunday 20 November 5.15pm & Wednesday 23 November 6.30pm. Tickets: ?8.50 / Students ?5.30. Wednesday's screening will be followed by a recorded Q&A with director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami. For more information and tickets please visit or call 01227 769075.




For more information on screening contact:

For interviews, more information, press tickets and images please contact:
Jess Thomas, Marketing Officer, 01227 827956, j.l.thomas_at_kent_dot_ac_dot_uk
David Yard, Head of Marketing, 01227 824688, d.yard_at_kent_dot_ac_dot_uk

Editors Notes:


Director's Biography


Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami was born in Tehran and studied filmmaking and animation in Tehran Art University. Her published essays and research include the book, "Animated Documentary: A New Way to Express," published in Persian in 2009. Her short documentary works include Pigeon Fanciers (2000), A Loud Solitude (2010), Born 20 Minutes Late (2010), Going Up the Stairs (2011), and the animated documentary Cyanosis (2007).


The New Release Strategy


This new initiative backed by the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) via nine regional UK Film Hubs, aims to expand the reach of titles that may be perceived as ?challenging', including foreign language films, ensuring they are seen by more people in more cinemas.  Over ?100,000 will be invested by the BFI Film Audience Network, with the support of the BFI awarding funds through the National Lottery, to back six titles over the coming year. The first three to receive distribution support are The Pearl Button (New Wave, 18 Mar), Deniz Gamze Erg?ven's Best Foreign Language Oscar and Golden Globe nominee Mustang (Curzon Artificial Eye, 13 May) and Chevalier, a satirical comedy from Greek-director Athina Rachel Tsangari (Studio Canal, 22 July).


About the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN)


The BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) is a ground-breaking initiative that gives audiences across the UK the opportunity to see a diverse range of films in a cinema setting. For filmmakers, getting films onto cinema screens is a highly competitive business, particularly for specialised films which includes archive, documentary, independent and foreign language films. The BFI FAN aims to change this.


With ?8.7 million of Lottery funding over four years (2013-2017) the BFI FAN works with cinema exhibitors, film festivals, educators, film societies, community venues, film archives and other organisations in their regions or nations to boost audiences for film across the UK.


The film hub partners which drive audience engagement across the UK comprise:  Broadway Nottingham and Cambridge Film Trust; Chapter, Cardiff; HOME, Manchester; Film London; Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast; Scottish Film; the University of Brighton; Showroom Sheffield; Bradford; and Watershed, Bristol.