Though a model daughter and student, Iranian teenager Ava is still forced to take a humiliating medical exam to prove her virginity, igniting a fierce rebellious streak. Based on her own experiences, Sadaf Foroughi's gripping debut is an intimate story, and a harsh critique of growing up female in a claustrophobic society.
"It's gut-punch cinema, uneasy and unpredictable, though Foroughi keeps it clicking right along into the rare open ending that feels earned." Kate Erbland - IndieWire
Winner of this year's Canadian Screen Award for Best First Feature Film, Ava recounts the coming of age of an upper-middle class Tehran teenager. Despite her somewhat regimented routine of school, violin lessons, and curfew, Ava's personal preoccupations aren't that different from those of girls her age around the world. She has a crush on the boy who accompanies her on the violin, and a bet with her friend that she can get him to go out on a date with her. But when Ava's mother discovers this plan, she goes from overprotective to paranoid and controlling, forcing Ava to see a gynecologist to prove she's still a virgin, and imposing ever-more rigid restrictions on her daughter's freedom. The consequences for their relationship are dire as Ava's rebels against these constraints, constraints that are only reinforced by her school environment, and by extension, the larger society. "You are under continual assessment," the headmistress warns her students ominously over the school loudspeaker. Based on director Sadaf Foroughi's own adolescent experiences, Ava offers a powerful exploration of exactly what that means.
Iranian-Canadian director Sadaf Foroughi studied French literature before going to the University of Provence, eventually earning a PhD in film philosophy. She started making films in 2003, and in 2005, she was invited to join the Berlinale Talent Campus as a writer-director. Her previous works include Feminin, Masculin (2007), a short documentary about enforced gender roles on Iranian buses, and Sara in Ten Minutes (2007), which plumbs the depths of a young orphan girl's imagination.
Sponsored by Anonymous, Sinikka and Babak Parviz, Baabak Nassirian at FYF Productions, American Iranian Business Council, Nima Foroutan DDS, Shadi Araghi/ Highlands Kids Dentistry, Mike Moghaddas with Avenue Properties, Naini Family Foundation, Radio Iranshahr, Professional Copy 'n' Print, Sanaz Namdar, Ali Ahmadi, Orchideh Raisdanai, Persian & Iranian Studies at UW Near Eastern Languages & Civilization Department, and UW Iranian-American Faculty
- Director: Sadaf Foroughi
- Principal Cast: Mahour Jabbari, Bahar Nouhian, Leili Rashidi, Vahid Aghapour, Shayeste Sajadi
- Premiere Status: Seattle
- Country: Iran, Canada, Qatar
- Year: 2017
- Running Time: 103 minutes
- Producer: Sadaf Foroughi, Kiarash Anvari
- Screenplay: Sadaf Foroughi
- Cinematographers: Sina Kermanizadeh
- Editors: Kiarash Anvari
- Website: Official Film Website
- Awards: Toronto International Film Festival 2017 (FIPRESCI Prize), Canadian Screen Awards 2018 (Best First Feature Film)
- Filmography: Debut Feature Film
- Language: Farsi
- Has Subtitles: Yes
- Format: DCP
- US Distributor: Grasshopper Film
- International Sales: Mongrel International