Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Previously responsible for the thought-provoking documentary, Divorce Iranian Style, Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini return to the country for this eye-opening account of life in a Tehran women's hostel.

The runaways in question are Iranian girls, all under 20, who have fled their homes to escape abuse and intolerable restrictions.

Twice divorced Atena, for example, is 18, forced to escape when her stepfather attempts to rape her. Her mother's response is to try and set her on fire. Despite all this, she is desperate to return home. Setarah, on the other hand, was raped as a child and has no home to go back to.

The hostel negotiates with the families on behalf of the girls, attempting to reconcile them, and, if this is not possible, helping them towards a hard-to-come by independence by arranging accommodation and jobs.

By recording the day-to-day activities at the hostel, rather than quizzing the girls individually, Longinotto and Hosseini have created an honest and open account, which leaves us to draw our own conclusions.

You are struck by the difficulties that women face in Iran just to gain the freedoms that we take from granted. However, this is far from a depressing film, as you are reminded of the quality of hope, burning bright within these young women, as they make their way in a hostile world.

As Setareh says to encourage another girl, "You see this day. Our future is going to be like that. If you want it, our future can be as bright as that."

Uncompromising, but excellent.

Reviewed on: 09 Aug 2001
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Runaway packshot
Documentary about the plight of Iranian girls who run away from home.
Amazon link

Director: Kim Longinotto, Ziba Mir-Hosseini

Year: 2001

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: UK


EIFF 2001

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If you like this, try:

Divorce Iranian Style