The traditional role of a documentary film-maker is one of an impartial observer; there to document but not interfere or intercede. However, times change, and the ethical question shifts between the purity of the process and the morality behind doing nothing. If you transfer the debate into almost any other sphere, the ethics of inaction become dubious at best. In her new documentary, Sonita, director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami steps in to help a young rapper.

Sonita Alizadeh is a 16 year old rapper who dreams of making it big. Rihanna and Michael Jackson are amongst her idols. There’s a huge stumbling block though. The young afghani lives illegally in Iran. It’s illegal for women to sing in Iran and the situation in her homeland, where her mother and half her family still live, is even more restrictive. Her family wants her to marry as they need the money in order for her older brother to get wed. Marrying a stranger is the last thing on her mind.

Sonita is primarily a documentary which highlights the plight faced by many girls in countries and cultures throughout the world. In Afghanistan a girl is sold into marriage and her life expectations are meant to be no higher than being a good wife and producing offspring. Sonita herself is a talented and incredibly courageous young woman who highlights a situation with is morally repugnant to most of us in the Western world. It’s beautifully made, depicting the cultural norms through the eyes of Sonita, her family and friends.