Cleveland International Film Festival } March 25 – April 5, 2020 } Tower City Cinemas



Year: 2015
Run Time: 90 minutes


An Afghan refugee, 18-year-old Sonita now lives in Iran, where she’s enrolled in a program that offers her counseling and education. Heavily influenced by Western music—she tells her teacher she wishes her parents were Michael Jackson and Rhianna—she’s developed a passion for hip-hop. Sonita spends her free time developing her craft, saving up for studio time, and collaborating with other aspiring artists. Things turn ugly when her mom visits from Afghanistan, intent on bringing her daughter home so she can be sold into marriage for $9,000. Sonita’s dream of becoming a famous musician falls on deaf ears; in her culture, women are supposed to be wives, not singers. Her grim future tugs at the heartstrings of the film’s director, Roksareh Ghaem Magmahi, who is faced with an ethical dilemma: does she cross the line and assist her subject or simply watch as her fate unfolds? SONITA introduces the world to a remarkable young rapper with a powerful message. It will also lead to heavy discussions about the role of a director in documentary films. (In English and Farsi with subtitles) –E.F.

CIFF40 Screenings

Tower City Cinemas

Friday, April 08, 2016 at 6:15 PM

Saturday, April 09, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Women of the World

ReelWomenDirect Award for Excellence in Directing by a Woman
Music Movies Competition

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami is an Iranian filmmaker who studied animation and cinema at the Tehran Art University. Her documentary, "Going Up The Stairs," won her the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at the 2012 Sheffield International Documentary Festival.

"Going Up The Stairs" (2011), SONITA (2015)

Gerd Haag

Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

Behrouz Badrouj, Ali Mohammad Ghasemi, Mohammad Haddadi, Arastoo Givi, Torben Bernard, Parviz Arefi, Ala Mohseni

Rune Schweitzer

Sonita Alidazeh

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Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio

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