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Starless Dreams(Royahaye Dame Sobh)

Heavy snow falls from the sky as heavily-armed guards patrol the walls of an Iranian centre of correction and rehabilitation. Inside, the girls are waiting at the food counter. Among them are underage mothers and others who are married. All of them ended up here after becoming involved in crime. Drug dealing, assault, murder. Yet instead of cold-blooded criminals we discover friendly, warm young people who laugh, sing and cry together. Their close bonds have been forged by the troubled past they share. We learn of their fears of having to return to the lives they once left behind. The documental camera is intimate but respectful, the resulting portraits are full of dignity.
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WHAT ARE CRITICS SAYING?

80

The Hollywood Reporter by Deborah Young

Starless Dreams (Royahaye Dame Sobh), shot in a juvenile correctional facility for girls under the age of 18, is the perfect example of how powerful simplicity can be, when it’s underpinned by compassion for its subject.
100

CineVue by John Bleasdale

Starless Dreams is a fascinating and humane view of the marginalised and forgotten. The girls' voices rise as a startlingly powerful chorus, questioning, challenging and demanding we listen.
91

The A.V. Club by Noel Murray

What distinguishes Starless Dreams is Oskouei’s voice, heard from off screen, getting these girls to be honest about where they’ve come from and why they’re less than anxious to return.
90

Variety by Scott Tobias

With the conceptual rigor and emotional directness associated with the best of Iranian cinema, Oskouei simply listens to the stories of those who have never been listened to before. Their shattering testimony, elegantly harmonized in a chorus of stolen childhood, has universal appeal.
80

Time Out London by Tom Huddleston

These young women have already witnessed enough horror to last a lifetime, and in this unforgiving society their lot seems unlikely to improve. A grim but necessary watch.

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