November 27, 2016 · Knoxville Museum of Art · 2:00 p.m.
A haunting portrait of stolen childhood, Starless Dreams plunges us into the lives of seven young teenage girls sharing temporary quarters at a rehabilitation and correction center on the outskirts of Tehran. As the New Year approaches, the girls bond and reveal with disarming and often playful honesty the circumstances and acts that resulted in their incarceration. They have killed their father, robbed a bank or were arrested for carrying 651 grams of cocaine. It is the sisterly bond that brings the girls to sing and dance with hope. It is also one that allows them to share their tears. Outside the prison walls, danger is everywhere, even within their own families.
Oskouei, one of Iran’s most prominent directors spent seven years securing access to this all-female facility. With incredible empathy, Starless Dreams delivers an unforgettable cinematic portrayal of restored innocence and humanity.
“Oskouei’s curiosity and empathy restores some small measure of their innocence and allows them to be seen as children again — bright, playful, enthusiastic and tragically vulnerable. One particularly despondent girl calls herself “Nobody.” Oskouei’s camera, by peeling back that cloak of invisibility, makes her a somebody.” — Variety
“Having already produced and directed documentaries about male juvenile delinquency, I decided to continue with one about the female variety. It took seven years to finally get permission to start filming and the result is the very first movie about girls in the correctional and rehabilitation centres of Iran. The film tries to act as the voice of voiceless innocent girls whose mistreatment and difficult upbringing led them to a life of delinquency. I personally think that we as a society are guiltier than the girls in question and hope that my film will help change our attitude towards them.” — Mehrdad Oskouei