Beta Cinema has acquired Mahnaz Mohammadi’s Toronto Film Festival entry “Son-Mother” (Pesar-Madar). The Iranian-Czech co-production will have its world premiere at the festival in the Discovery section on Sept. 7.
Mohammadi has made a name for herself with documentaries on social issues such as “Women Without Shadows” and “Travelogue,” in which she interviewed passengers on a train from Tehran to Ankara about the reasons why they decided to flee Iran. Mohammadi has been repeatedly imprisoned and banned from filmmaking and traveling abroad. In 2014, the French directors’ guild launched a petition supported her signed by Costa Gavras and Gilles Jacob, among many others.
“Son-Mother” marks her first fiction feature film and addresses the impact of tradition on the lives of women in present-day Iran, when a young widow is faced with the choice to either abandon her son or succumb to poverty and social degradation.
Leila is a single working mom of two, living in sanctions-gripped Iran. The factory she works at faces a crisis and jobs are at stake. Kazem, the factory bus driver, proposes marriage to Leila, but she hesitates to accept his conditions. Kazem has a daughter the same age as her 12-year-old son, Amir, and since tradition frowns upon a young girl sharing a household with her stepbrother, Kazem tells Leila not to bring her son until he marries his daughter off. After Leila is fired from her job, she makes the decision to stay with Kazem and leave Amir in the care of a boarding school, until she figures out how to manage his return. After a few months, Amir tries to escape and on the run faces Kazem, who asks him to think about his family’s future. Amir has to decide.
The film is produced by Kaveh Famam (Europe Media Nest), Mohammad Rasoulof, who also wrote the screenplay, and Farzad Pak of Filminiran.
Beta Cinema’s Tassilo Hallbauer said: “We were absolutely taken by the sensitive way in which Mahnaz addresses the situation of women in present-day Iran. She provides us with a gripping, universally accessible story of a mother fighting not to succumb to traditional norms and her son showing incredible resilience in his support for her.”