It’s certainly not easy growing up as a teenage girl in the modern world, regardless of where you live. You probably feel assailed from every side. If it’s not the media’s relentless obsession towards beauty and perfection or the toxic social media, it’s boys being utter twerps. At least growing up in a Western democracy you’re entitled to a fair amount of protection and rights, even if that’s within patriarchal systems. For Ava, growing up in Iran only offers limited freedoms.
Ava (Mahour Jabbari) is a student at an all-girls high school in Tehran. Just a normal teenager with all the hopes, fears and aspirations you’d expect. She lives in a nice apartment with her affluent parents (Vahid Aghapoor and Bahar Noohian), a mother who is overprotective and a father who is often absent. In many ways she’s a model student, obsessed with music and trying to fit in. However, when her mother finds out she’s been seeing a boy, her life is suddenly thrown upside down.
Based on her own adolescent experiences, Sadaf Foroughi’s feature is an assured debut which pits traditional and obedience against a natural tendency to rebel. It’s easy to see why Ava won the FIPRESCI Prize at Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery section. One huge overaction by her mother acts as a catalyst for Ava to rage against the world. Jabbari impresses in her first acting role whilst there’s clever use of location to represent the parameters she has to live in. Ava is a powerful and precise coming-of-age drama.
Ava is released on digital by New Wave Films on 21 August.