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The filmmaker as the good fairy

Is a documentary's credibility compromised when the director intervenes in the portrayed life story to achieve a desired and more salable result? The film Sonita is an important story of victory over women's oppressive traditions, but also raises difficult questions about the role of the filmmaker.

Director and screenplay: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

18 year old Sonita Alizadeh is on a stage in California. With deer eyes and dazzling white teeth, the rapper whispers the beginning of the hip hop song "Brides for Sale". The words are foreign to the American audience, but conveyed with a glowing intensity that elicits response. And Sonita's story is truly adventurous. During the three years Sonita was the protagonist of Iranian Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's documentary, she transformed with the director's help from paperless Afghan refugee who washed toilets in Iran, to hip-hop phenomenon and activist in the United States.


Favorite Adventure. Directors who document societal problems cannot help but be confronted with their own role in the field. Should they be a passive observer in the hope that someone in the audience addresses the fight against injustice – or should they be an active driver for positive change? IN The others (2012), Margreth Olin chose to keep the role of observer, and not to help the deported young asylum seekers too much, even though she later remarked that it was a difficult one. . .

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Hilde Susan Jaegtnes
Author and screenwriter for film and television.

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