"Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness," a film by Iranian film critic, scriptwriter and producer, Massoud Bakhshi, has been well-received by critics.
The story is about a woman - Maryam - who accidentally kills her own husband - Nasser - in a fight. Sentenced to death, Maryam is faced with the challenging task of begging forgiveness from Nassers daughter, Mona. This is because Irans eye-for-an-eye legal system gives the victims closest relative the "legal and spiritual" right to invoke the death penalty or accept blood money as payment and spare the murderers life. To this end, Maryam seeks a chance to beg mercy for her life, in a televised reality show, viewed by millions, during Yalda, the winter solstice celebration.
According to Bakhshi, "the film is concerned more with forgiveness rather than revenge."
The film has been selected for screening in this years Sundance film festival in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition and has been acclaimed by many critics.
Fabien Lemercier, a renowned Cineuropa critic, has said that "Massoud Bakhshi methodically deciphers Iranian reality through the twists and turns of a captivating melodrama (obsessed with her own innocence and with the truth about her marriage, Maryam does not abide by the contrition required for pardon) that offers superb roles to its two lead actresses."
"A fascinating duel for control with many emotional outbursts (some of them triggered by surprises that are a little too neatly set up by the script), the film also gives the director opportunities to intelligently address the mechanisms of TV spectacle (in one instance, through a backstage "documentary" within the film) with a very cinematic eye supported by the beautiful cinematography of Bulgarian DoP Julian Atanassov."
According to Allan Hunter from Screen Daily, "the format of an hour-long live television show provides a compact framework for Yalda." and "the slick assurance of Bakhshis approach makes for an accessible, pacey melodrama but one that can also seem to trivialize the life and death matters at the core of the story."
"Yalda, a Night of Forgiveness, an ingeniously conceptualized, impeccably acted and tightly shot single location piece, it both buys into and subverts crucial elements of thriller, reality TV and murder documentary tropes," according to Abby Sun from the Filmmaker website.
It is worth mentioning that the film will be presented in the 70th annual Berlin International Film Festival as its European debut.
Produced by French company JBA Productions with Niko Film (Germany), Close Up Films (Switzerland), Amour Fou Luxembourg, Brittany-based company Tita B Productions, Iranian company Ali Mosaffa Productions and Lebanese company Schortcut Films, the film is sold internationally by Pyramide.