International Competition

Sunless Shadows

Mehrdad Oskouei
Screening time  
05.10. / Monday, 15:00 - 17:00 Ticket
09.10. / Friday, 20:00 - 22:00 Ticket

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.


Mehrdad Oskouei

Mehrdad Oskouei is an Iranian filmmaker, producer, photographer and researcher born in 1969 in Tehran. He studied film direction at the University of Arts. His films have been screened at numerous festivals both at home and abroad to great critical acclaim, making him one of the major Iranian documentary makers. In 2010, Oskouei received the Dutch Prince Claus Award for his achievements. He is a founding member of the Institute of Anthropology and Culture and has sat on several international film festival juries, as well as being a cultural ambassador for the United Nation's humanitarian committee UCHA. He also teaches at film schools around Iran and is active in the Tehran Arts and Culture Association. His film The Last Days of Winter was released in France in 2013 to both critical and public acclaim. His film Starless Dreams was screened at 2016 ZagrebDox.

General sponsor

Sunless Shadows

Iran, Norway
2019, 74'

Directed by:
Mehrdad Oskouei

Screenplay by:
Mehrdad Oskouei

Mehdi Azadi

Edited by:
Amir Adibparvar

Afshin Azizi

Mehrdad Oskouei, Carsten Aanonsen

Produced by:
Oskouei Film Production, Indie Film

Festivals & Awards:

IDFA 2019 - Best Director Award 2019; Big Sky Documentary Film Festival 2020 - Special Mention Award; Krakow Film Festival 2020 - Winner Student Jury Award, Göteborg Film Festival 2020; DocPoint Helsinki Documentary Film Festival 2020; DocPoint Tallinn International Documentary Film Festival 2020; MoMA’s festival Doc Fortnight 2020; True/False Film Festival 2020; International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights 2020; CPH:DOX 2020; New Zealand’s Oscar-qualifying premiere International Documentary Film Festival 2020; Melbourne International Film Festival 2020; DokuFest/Human Rights Dox 2020; ZURICH FILM FESTIVAL 2020; Middle East Now Film Festival 2020; Silk Road International Film Festival 2020


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