Having fled from Afghanistan, 18-year-old Sonita Alizadeh lives with her younger sister and cousin in a refugee centre in Tehran. She loves music, plays guitar and raps, even though singing is forbidden for girls in Iran. Her dream is to be a famous rapper onstage before a huge audience. For now her only fans are other teenage girls in a Tehran shelter.
Filmmaker Maghami meets this ambitious young woman and follows her as she goes about her daily life. When Sonita’s mother comes to Tehran to visit, it turns out not to be just a social occasion. Sonita’s brother is to be married, and the bride price has to be financed. The only solution is that Sonita return to Afghanistan to be married off to a rich old man for 9,000 dollars. Sonita expresses her resistance in an impressive artistic rap video. She also asks for help from her social worker, but the organisation doesn’t have the necessary financial means. The cameraman advises the director not to interfere with Sonita’s life – but can he maintain his distance?
Sonita is full of unexpected twists. It is an inspiring film, at times with edge-of-your-seat suspense as well as humour, about dreams versus traditions and music versus politics. It won the IDFA 2015 Audience Award, and at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award.