Starless Dreams | Chicago Reader

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76 minutes · 2016

Iranian documentary maker Mehrdad Oskouei ventures inside a correctional center for teenage girls and gets a handful of them to open up about their lives before they were incarcerated. Like accounts of the U.S. juvenile justice system (e.g. Ben Lear's They Call Us Monsters), the movie is striking for its glimpses of violent offenders from squalid homes lapsing into the silliness and vulnerability of childhood: out in the yard, girls laugh and squeal as they build a snowman, and inside the cafeteria, one bold girl grabs the filmmakers' boom mike and leads the others in a song. The difference here is that Oskouei's subjects have grown up under a strict religious patriarchy that not only reinforces their abuse at home (one girl remembers an uncle taking her into a room to pray whenever he wanted to rape her) but also guides the criminal justice system into which they've been driven. In Persian with subtitles.

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