Sonita is a powerful documentary about a fourteen year old Afghanistan refugee, now living in Iran, as she dreams of becoming a female rapper in a country where women singing is illegal and her family demands she return to Afghanistan to be sold into wedlock. Highly intelligent, fiercely independent and traumatised from her experiences with the Taliban the audience cannot help but side with this teenager whose world is set against her.
When the care shelter in Tehran cannot protect her from her family’s wishes, Sonita turns to another possible escape route – that of the filmmaker herself Rokhsareh Maghami. Staring defiantly into the camera she asks Maghami that if the family will sell her as a bride, can she not buy her and adopt her? This film explores the personal and complex relationship between the filmmaker and the subject. Her plea is increasingly hard to ignore as Sonita creates a rap video which powerfully rebels about the Afghan tradition of selling young girls as brides. The very real reality of this fate is all the more visceral as she spits her lyrics with an increasingly beaten, bloody and hollow face from behind a white veil.
As Sonita’s fate takes extreme and almost unbelievable turns the tension throughout the film is ratcheted up to heart racing levels. The camera is right there with Sonita, along with an uncomfortable feeling that Sonita’s entire future lies upon an amount of money that nearly all members of the audience, and the filmmaker, could give.
Sonita is engaging, relevant, thought-provoking and deeply troubling. It tackles serious topics through such a personal experience that Sonita’s plight feels the audience’s own. While the film questions the role of the filmmaker in these instances, it also questions the role of the audience and our responsibility to act.
DIRECTOR: Rokhsareh Maghami
SYNOPSIS: Sonita is a teenage refugee from Afghanistan who lives in Iran and fights to follow her dream of being a rapper in a world which is entirely set against her.