Runaway

In "Runaway," U.K. documaker Kim Longinotto ("Dream Girls," "Gaea Girls") returns to Tehran to observe with characteristic detachment a refuge for young women suffering familial abuse.

In “Runaway,” U.K. documaker Kim Longinotto (“Dream Girls,” “Gaea Girls”) returns to Tehran to observe with characteristic detachment a refuge for young women suffering familial abuse. As in her fascinating “Divorce Iranian Style,” also made with Iranian-born anthropologist Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Longinotto gets privileged access to behind-doors meetings and lets her subjects do the talking, revealing a surprising gallery of half-truths and misunderstandings. Fests and cable spots beckon for this engrossing docu.

A house with a courtyard on a nondescript side street, the Reyhaneh Center is ruled with iron patience and dedication to Islamic principles by Mrs. Shirazi and two counselors, Mrs. Aquizadeh and Mrs. Ghamgosar, who’ve all heard every yarn in the book. Adopting a traditionally consensual approach to social problems, the three women cross-question their aggrieved charges and parents, making both see the errors of their ways (several of the girls are shown to have wildly exaggerated their plights). Like “Divorce,” pic reveals the compassionate side of Islam rather than following the Western media’s more cliched demonizing, and leaves the viewer free to decide. Tech credits are pro throughout.

Runaway

U.K.

Production: A Vixen Films production for Channel 4. (International sales: Vixen, London.) Directed by Kim Longinotto, Ziba Mir-Hosseini.

Crew: Camera (color), Longinotto; editor, Ollie Huddleston. Reviewed on videocassette, Edinburgh, Aug. 21, 2001. (In Edinburgh Film Festival -- Imagining Reality.) Running time: 87 MIN.

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