Sunless Shadows

  • Mehrdad Oskouei
  • Iran, Norway
  • 2019
  • 74 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary

In an Iranian juvenile detention center, a group of adolescent girls serve their sentence for the grave crime of murdering their father, their husband or another male family member. Filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouei built a remarkable relationship with these inmates, whose frank conversations and playful interactions he observes, and who privately open up about the consequences of, and sometimes the reasons for, their action.

Occasionally he leaves them alone with the camera, allowing it to become a tool for them to address both their victims in the afterlife and their accomplices—three of the girls committed their father’s killing together with their mothers, who are now on death row.

Contrasting with the much gloomier situation of these mothers, the atmosphere in the girls’ living quarters—a shared cell with a teenage bedroom feel, a classroom and a green courtyard where a bunch of ducklings scuttle about—seems almost carefree. It gradually starts to dawn on us that apart from being a prison, this closed, all-female environment is also a shelter from an aggressively male-dominated society.


  • 74 min
  • color
  • DCP
  • Spoken languages: Persian
  • Subtitles in: English
Mehrdad Oskouei
Mehrdad Oskouei for Oskouei Films, Carsten Aanonsen for Indie Film
Executive producer
Siavash Jamali for Emrooz film
Mehdi Azadi
Amir Adibparvar

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
Central Pitch
Supported with €15000 for Classic: Production & postproduction
Supported with €5000 for Classic: Development

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IDFA history

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