Directed by Firouzeh Khosrovani • 2014 • Iran
The hall is packed with chattering Iranian schoolgirls wearing lilac robes and white hijabs. An imam explains to them that at nine years old they have reached the “age of duty.” This, he says, is the moment at which puberty begins, bringing with it all the accompanying religious precepts. Their carefree days are over, and from now on the angel on the right shoulder and the devil on the left will be there watching, too, weighing up good and evil. At the instigation of the imam, the girls dutifully repeat in monotone when they should or should not wear the hijab. Greeted by loud cheering, a whipped cream version of the Kaaba is sliced up. The scenes of this ceremony at school were recorded in 2005. Eight years later, filmmaker Firouzeh Khosrovani visits two of the children she filmed: the cousins and former best friends Melika and Maryam. What’s been happening to them in the meantime? In the intimate confines of their own surroundings, the two young women talk about their past and present, and how they see their future. Maryam wears her hijab with full conviction and shares her existential doubts with God. Melika dreams of a career as an actress, paints her nails and posts selfies on Instagram.