Starless Dreams
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    Starless Dreams

    Royahaye Dame Sobh

    Directed by



    76 min

    • Farsi


    Murder and theft, drug dealing and addiction: young lives marked by traumatic stories lead to this Iranian "Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre" for girls. Some of the girls feel more at home in prison than they did with their families. A rare documentary glimpse inside a locked-up world and a respectful portrait of young women struggling to recapture some sense of personal dignity.


    • Amnesty International Film Prize - Berlinale Generation
    • True Vision Award (Mehrdad Oskouei) - True/False FF
    • Best Director Award - Fajr IFF
    • Cineuropa Audience Award - FEST
    • Grierson Award for Best Documentary - BFI London FF
    • Best Documentary Feature Film - Asia Pacific Screen Awards
    • Teen Dox Award for Best Film about Issues Concerning the Young - ZagrebDox



    Mehrdad Oskouei
    Mohamad Hadadi
    Amir Adibparvar
    Afshin Azizi

    Director's Statement

    Having already produced and directed documentaries about male juvenile delinquency, I decided to continue with one about the female variety. It took seven years to finally get permission to start filming and the result is the very first movie about girls in the correctional and rehabilitation centres of Iran. The film tries to act as the voice of voiceless innocent girls whose mistreatment and bad upbringing led them to a life of delinquency. I personally think that we as a society are guiltier than the girls in question and hope that my film will help change our attitude towards them.



    The perfect example of how powerful simplicity can be, when it’s underpinned by compassion for its subject.

    Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter

    By not hiding his empathy and concern, Oskouei subtly draws attention to the inherent imbalance of the viewer-subject exchange. Suddenly, we’re not just watching a movie but reflecting on our own helplessness.

    Bilge Ebiri, The Voice

    Extraordinarily empathetic documentary.

    Scott Tobias, Variety

    Mehrdad Oskouei

    Mehrdad Oskouei


    Independent producer, filmmaker and photographer, Mehrdad Oskouei was born in Tehran in 1969. He has a B.A. in film direction from the University of Arts. He made his first film at the age of 19 and since then he has gone to produce, write and direct more than 25 documentaries and shorts. His films have received over 80 awards from national and international festivals. THE OTHER SIDE OF BURKA (2004) was awarded for best Iranian documentary and Oskouei himself was awarded best young Iranian filmmaker in 2004 and 2005. NOSE, IRANIAN STYLE was nominated for the Golden Movie Squad DOC U Award at IDFF Amsterdam in 2005. Mehrad is a 2010 Prince Claus Award laureate “for his moving, informative and evocative films, for his honest engagement with his subjects and his commitment to accurately representing their concerns, and for working in difficult contexts to break down prejudice and generate social justice." His most recent feature, STARLESS DREAMS (2016), was selected at the Berlinale Generation. In 2016, he was awarded the True Vision Award at the True/False Film Fest in honor of his achievement in, and contribution to, the field of nonfiction filmmaking.

    Selected Filmography