TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Massoud Bakhshi, Mahmoud Bakhshi

Iran, France


Maryam (26) is “temporarily married” to Naser (65). She accidentally kills him, but is pregnant with his child. In Iran, only a victim’s family can forgive the killer. For Maryam, this pardon plays out on the country’s most popular reality show. She quickly discovers that nothing is what it seems, including her own family. She must choose between her child and her life, in front of millions of viewers.


Trained in the strong documentary tradition of the Iranian cinema, I write my films in relation to the realities of the Iranian society.

My first feature film, "A Respectable Family", was based on my childhood memories of the Iraq-Iran war. Despite its selection at the Cannes Film Festival and both critics’ and audience’s acclaim of the film abroad, it was banned in Iran and aroused an extreme anger among the Iranian authorities who brought proceeding against me. After the last general election, the new administration closed the case, which was similar to a Kafka story and made me seriously think about the issues of justice, forgiveness and truth.

The film is also inspired by real facts. I worked years ago on a documentary about women who where sentenced to death for having killed their husbands. The images of these women and their heartbreaking stories, which told of being subjected to a blind, deep form of violence, remained within me. "Yalda" is a reflection of all these thoughts.

"Yalda" tells the story of a 26-year-old woman who has been sentenced to death for having murdered her rich 65-year-old husband. She is invited to the most popular live TV reality show in Iran to be possibly forgiven by the victim’s only daughter who has got the retribution right. A similar show really exists and inspired me to tell the whole story on the stage and in the backstage of the live show.

The story narrates the struggle of the female characters against a patriarchal system. It is also a film about revenge. A story in a society where tradition and modernity conflict with one another and the heavy weight of transition relies on the women’s shoulders.

From my earlier documentaries up to "A Respectable Family", the women of my country and their lives, hopes, dreams and problems have been at the center of my attention. Nevertheless I can call "Yalda" my most female film. All the women of the film are condemned, but each of them resists and fights in one way or another.

budget & financing

After producing Massoud Bakshsi’s first feature film "A Respectable Family" (Directors’ Fortnight 2012, Black Pearl Award Abu Dhabi FF, etc.) we have decided to commit ourselves to his new project "Yalda". We are not only convinced by Massoud’s talent, but also profoundly taken by the story he proposes to tell. Massoud is Iranian and lives in Tehran, "Yalda" is an Iranian story inspired by real facts and by a real TV reality show, Massoud has no choice but to shoot in Iran, with Iranian cast and crew, and it is therefore impossible to “Europeanize” the film. Hence the production will be based on a series of sources of financing that are not within the framework of European regulations. The financing plan clearly reveals these constraints: it will be a patchwork of various funds. Producing Massoud’s second feature film is a big challenge, but that is our reason of existence. For 30 years, JBA has supported independent young filmmakers from countries with strong creative and social/ political aspects. The project "Yalda" has been developed at Le Groupe Ouest and has been selected in the Fabrique des Cinémas du Monde 2016, a perfect place to start to meet the potential co-producers. Together with Bon Gah we shall do our best to gather around the project differents partners who share our convictions: in Iran with private investors; in France with Aide aux Cinémas du Monde, ARTE France Cinema, Breizh Film Fund, Angoa (confirmed) and Pyramide (confirmed) as well as Germany (with NRW, WCF and Medienboard) and Norway (Sørfond) or Switzerland (Vision Sud Est) and foundations. Lastly, TorinoFilmLab which is one of the rare strategic and economic challenges to fulfill the ambition of this project and its international reception.

distribution & sales

For the international sales and French distribution we are lucky to work with the French company Pyramide which was also the sales agent and French distributor of Massoud’s first feature. "Yalda" fits perfectly in Pyramide’s profile and will find its place among their different voices of world cinema. Buyers will appreciate its inquisitive portrait of tradition and modernity, presented in an original and accessible way. The audience will be attracted to the live TV reality show context as well as the intriguing and complex female characters. With a strong premiere at a major festival, the film will be well branded for buyers at the key markets. In addition to distribution guarantees, revenue will be generated at a later stage through screening fees and awards at the film festivals. The regional festival run of the film can also serve an excellent opportunity for distributors to see local audience reactions and develop plans for a local release. Taking into account the calendar of the film, the first potential meeting is Berlin, a perfect starting place for its promotion. But we do not exclude Cannes or Venice. We are also aware of the importance of good press coming out during these festivals. We may also count on the dynamic of the co-producers and partners who are behind the project, multiplying its promotion.

Iran, the future of a young woman facing retributive justice plays out live on the country’s most popular reality show. About women and dignity.
Massoud Bakhshi

Scriptwriter, Film Director

Mahmoud Bakhshi


production notes

directed by
Massoud Bakhshi

produced byBon Gah
Iran No. 149 Babakhanlou stREET
1, Tehran

in co-production with
JBA Production - France

total production budget
€ 700.000

current financial need
€ 450.000