Film Archive


International Programme 2019
Khatemeh Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei

14-year-old Khatemeh lives in extremely restrictive structures in the Iranian city of Shiraz. She runs away to escape a forced marriage. But the case is anything but clear.


Documentary Film
90 minutes

Credits DOK Leipzig Logo

Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei
Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei
Satar Oraki
Hadi Zarei, Mehdi Zarei
Babak Heidari
Alireza Alavian
The structures of Khatemeh’s family, who originally came from Afghanistan but have lived in the Iranian city of Shiraz for more than thirty years, are rigid. The fourteen-year-old girl was married to a man double her age. He was in a relationship with her older sister, who took her own life. He says: “When she died, I wanted to marry her sister because they look alike.” According to the men in the house, mental problems are common to all the women in the family. And now Khatemeh has run away, to a kind of women’s refuge, because she couldn’t stand it any longer. She wants a divorce. Some male relatives go to the refuge to take Khatemeh with them. Her brother says: “Death is better than being a whore.”

At first glance, the situation seems clear. In the course of the film, however, more and more discrepancies emerge. Khatemeh especially shifts unpredictably between mental states. Sometimes she curses her family and fights for her freedom, then she implores the women who run the refuge on her knees to let her go home no matter what. Other girls, who also took refuge in the home, are sometimes attacked violently by her. “Khatemeh” is like a desert storm which again and again obscures the view to reveal a new vista when it’s died down.

Carolin Weidner