Arts & Culture

Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars

One young Iranian woman challenges her family and traditional values as she dreams of becoming an astronaut.

| Arts & Culture, Iran, Space, Science & Technology

Editor's note: This film is no longer available online.

Sepideh longs to become an astronaut [Paul Wilson/Al Jazeera]

Sepideh is a young Iranian woman who dares to dream of a future as an astronaut.

At night, she stares up at the sky while taking lessons from a space fanatic who teaches schoolchildren about astronomy.

At home, full of hope and longing, she watches recordings of the world's first female astronaut, Iranian-American, Anousheh Ansari.

When Sepideh's father died suddenly six years ago, she discovered that she could feel closer to him by watching the stars, and so her dream was born. But not everyone around her appreciates her boundless ambition.

With no money to pay for university, her mother and uncle are worried about her future. She doesn't want to learn how to cook, hardly ever visits her family, and doesn't seem to be thinking about marriage at all.

In Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars , we follow this brave young woman as she watches the stars, while tensions steadily rise at school, in the mosque and at home.

As time passes, it becomes clear just how at odds her dreams are with her current reality and the expectations of those around her.

Fortunately, Sepideh is able to express all her thoughts, dreams and cares in the letters she writes to her hero, Albert Einstein.


FILMMAKER'S VIEW

By Berit Madsen

To me there is a universal tone in the film that is instantly recognisable. A young woman is at a crossroads between childhood and adulthood, and at the very same time she is trying to break away from traditions and find her own niche in life.

However, what makes Sepideh special and gives the story impact, is the way in which her actions and the resistance she encounters, reveal the fundamental conflicts that exist between young Iranians and a society with a framework that is all too easily reproduced and mirrored in everyday life.

In many ways Sepideh's mother and her uncles represent a system that leaves much to be desired in terms of young people's aspirations and desires to determine their own lifestyles. The Iranian context is ever present in the film, and uncle Hadi is the perfect reminder of the fact that even the slightest wrong turn in this society can have fatal consequences.

Sepideh is the perfect example of the fact that it takes courage and an enormous willpower to go head-to-head with a conservative and controlling society, and that one must never take freedom for granted. Her immense enthusiasm for the stars and the beauty of the universe seeps through the film, and her actions show that taking your destiny into your own hands is courageous, but it may hurt the ones who love you the most.

This film tells the story of a young woman who dares to pursue her dream in order to come to terms with her ultimate loss and thereby liberate herself in an environment whose ideals are directly opposing. How will this clash turn out?

Credits

 
SHORT FORM LONG FORM

Produced with support from:

Danish Film Institute

DR3

West Danish Film Fund

International Media Support

Swedish Film Institute

SVT 

Vestnorsk filmsenter

Nordisk Film & TV Fond 

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund 

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

Influence Film Foundation 

Produced in co-production with:

ZDF

In collaboration with:

ARTE

and in co-production with:

ITVS International

In association with:

Chicken & Egg Pictures

Fiscal Sponsor:

Women Make Movies

Co-produced by:

Sheherazad Media International

DOCDAYS Productions

Flimmer Film

Eight Millimetres

Produced with support from:

Danish Film Institute
by Film Commissioner Klara Grunning-Harris

DR 3 / Commissioning Editor Julie Schytte Ralund

West Danish Film Fund / Katrine Kiilgaard

International Media Support / Rasmus Steen

Swedish Film Institute / Cecilia Lidin

SVT / Axel Arnö

Vestnorsk filmsenter / Lars Skorpen

Nordisk Film & TV Fond / Karolina Lidin

Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and
Fund / Cara Mertes, Kristin Feeley & Rahdi Taylor

Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund / Ryan Harrington

Influence Film Foundation / Victoria Steventon

Produced in co-production with:

ZDF / Commissioning Editor Sabine Bubeck-Paaz

In collaboration with:

ARTE

and in co-production with:

ITVS International / Executive Producer Sally Jo Fifer
With funding provided by Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
ITVS International is made possible by
Ford Foundation, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation

In association with:

Chicken & Egg Pictures / Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger & Judith Helfand.

Fiscal Sponsor:

Women Make Movies / Debra Zimmerman

Executive Producers:

Carsten Holst and Steen Risom

Co-produced by:

Sheherazad Media International
DOCDAYS Productions
Flimmer Film
Eight Millimetres

Source: Al Jazeera

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