This film was playing locally as part of a new series of films called “Human Rights: Voices in Film” which is playing out over the course of the rest of this month. It’s a series whose purpose is to shed light on and bring a focus on International cinema depicting different struggles, adversities, and people overcoming them. It happened to catch my eye not only because it sounded like a good story. But I genuinely believe that in order to call yourself a real fan of cinema. It’s essential that you integrate foreign films that center around important issues facing people of the modern day world if you’re really going to call yourself a true lover of film. So for this reason and just that it looked something interesting and slightly different than what I’m used to I made it a priority to see it.
The story centers around a young Iranian girl named Sepideh, who has a passion for Astronomy that’s pretty incredible and truly amazing given the culture that she is raised in and also for the mere fact that she’s high school aged. Throughout the film, we learn the challenges that Sepideh faces along with that of her family. In the part of Iran in which she lives in it’s very hard economically for anyone, like her loving mother, to wish for much of anything than to maybe own a piece of land someday. Never mind go to a university to become an astronomer with the hopes of one day becoming an astronaut herself and getting the opportunity to go into space. Like the first Iranian woman Anoushesh Ansari, who she happens to idolize and who goes on to play a key component in the film. Is this passion of hers a dream that is realistic or even something attainable outside from maybe Ansari, who was the first and only Iranian woman to take flight? All odds point against her, and what the movie then goes on to explore is if you truly are passionate enough about something to chase your dream; a feat that only a small contingency of people actually really go on to do, is it even possible when all of life’s forces seem to be working against you?
I thought “Sepideh” was a beautiful film. From its great cinematography and images of space, to its exploration of what women face, specifically that of a young woman, if they grew up in a culture where they’re born into a society where their life has already been predetermined for them. It’s an amazing story of how to chase your dreams while overcoming all odds. I also found it very interesting how incredibly bright Sepideh was given that she was only 16-17 at the time of filming. She’s incredibly well spoken, determined, and is very wise above her years. Unlike American girls her age you don’t find Sepideh chasing boys at her local shopping mall or playing on her smart phone (she still has to go to a computer lab to use the Internet). That would just be too juvenile for someone of Sepideh’s intellect. I found it’s treatment of both her and her family’s problems they face to be identifiable and really to be universal ones no matter what society, class, or culture you are raised into. Lastly, was the filmmaker’s ability to be able to bring you into Sepideh’s world straight from the get go and make you immediately care from her and really make you as a viewer go along for the ride in every step of the process where you really want to see her succeed. There were various points throughout the film where I personally shared both Sepideh’s emotions towards her achievements, setbacks, and overall hurdles; that I had a lump in my throat because it was so important for me to see her succeed. This was a real gem of a find and a film that really resonated with me long after the credits rolled. And even despite a mostly predictable ending, this is one film that I would call not even an important piece of cinema, but one that I’d even go so far as to call it a required viewing for those looking for a truly good and inspirational story that’s outside of the confines of what we unfortunately get more and more from out of Hollywood cinema these days. This to me, on a very simple level, was an incredible breath of fresh air.