Facets Cinémathèque

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February 17–23, 2017

Chicago Theatrical

Starless Dreams
(Royahaye dame sobh)

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Film still: Starless Dreams Film still: Starless Dreams
Amnesty Intl Film Prize
Berlin Intl Film Fest
5 stars "Brilliant"
  —The Guardian
"Starless the perfect example of how powerful simplicity can be, when it's underpinned by compassion for its subject"
  —Hollywood Reporter
4 stars "A grim but necessary watch"
  —TimeOut London
"With the conceptual rigor and emotional directness associated with the best of Iranian cinema, [director Mehrdad] Oskouei simply listens to the stories of those who have never been listened to before"
  —Chicago Tribune
  —Chicago Reader

For seven years, director Mehrdad Oskouei sought permission from the Iranian authorities to allow him to film an imprisoned population, otherwise hidden from the public eye. The result is an incredibly personal documentary about the dreams, nightmares, and hopes of the women in this all-female facility. While their crimes, from pick pocketing to drug dealing and manslaughter paint a bleak picture, it is the crimes of a society which is against them that come into sharper focus, as we begin to understand their backgrounds. Their individual stories show their desire to return to freedom and live a normal life, but also the fear of what is waiting for them on the outside. The result is a thoughtful and complex portrait of young women at the extreme margins of Iranian society.

"The film tries to act as the voice of voiceless innocent girls whose mistreatment and difficult upbringing led them to a life of delinquency. I personally think that we as a society are guiltier than the girls in question and hope that my film will help change our attitude towards them." —Mehrdad Oskouei

Directed by Mehrdad Oskouei, Iran, 2016, 76 mins. In Farsi with English subtitles.


  • Fri., Feb. 17 at 6:15 & 7:45 pm
  • Sat., Feb. 18 at 4:45, 6:15 & 7:45 pm
  • Sun., Feb. 19 at 3:15, 4:45 & 6:15 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., Feb. 20–23 at 6:15 & 7:45 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation