Sepideh: Reaching for the Stars

A young Iranian woman wants to become an astronaut, while her traditional family will do anything to keep her on the ground.

Sepideh 01
Series
Women of the World, Global Voices
Premiere Date
June 19, 2016
Length
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
International
Madsen berit filmmaker bio
Director

Berit Madsen

Berit Madsen is a graduate of the film school Les Ataliers Varan, Paris, with supplemental studies at the Danish School of Media and Journalism and an MA in Ethnography and Social Anthropology from Aarhus University. Most of Madsen’s films have been screened at festivals across the world and aired on everything from pay TV in the U.S. to public TV in Nepal.

Frost stephen filmmaker bio
Producer

Stefan Frost

Producers Stefan Frost and Henrik Underbjerg have been producing documentaries, feature films, and shorts since 2000 when they founded Radiator Film. Displaying a consistent aptitude for uncovering arresting as well as profoundly entertaining stories, choosing to work with up-and-coming talent as well as established film makers, Frost and Show more Underbjerg constantly develop their network of talent and creative producers. Show less

Underbjerg henrik filmmaker bio
Producer

Henrik Underbjerg

Producers Stefan Frost and Henrik Underbjerg have been producing documentaries, feature films, and shorts since 2000 when they founded Radiator Film. Displaying a consistent aptitude for uncovering arresting as well as profoundly entertaining stories, choosing to work with up-and-coming talent as well as established film makers, Frost and Show more Underbjerg constantly develop their network of talent and creative producers. Show less

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The Film

Sepideh is the story of 16‐year‐old Sepideh who wants to become an astronaut. Fuelled by a promise to her dead father to follow her dream and by the encouragement of her physics teacher Mr. Kabiri, Sepideh spends her days studying astronomy and her nights watching the stars. But pursuing her ambition is easier said than done for the young Iranian woman who is tied by family traditions and cultural codes, according to which nightly stargazing is not an appropriate occupation. But Sepideh is strong‐willed, and in her mind teamed up with Albert Einstein and with her idol Anousheh Ansari, an exiled Iranian woman who became the world’s first female space tourist. And although just a teenager, Sepideh is on the road of becoming the best amateur astronomer in Iran.

But reality kicks in: The family is out of money due to a drought that prevents them from growing their farmland, and Sepideh’s mother is denied access to the family well. The uncle blames it all on Sepideh, spending time and money on a giant telescope.

Sepideh puts all her effort into a national talent competition to get free access to the university, only to realize that her astronomy thesis has been turned down as it contradicts Islamic interpretation of a national treasure. At the same time Sepideh’s last year of high school is approaching and suitors are knocking on the door. Furious by the thought that his favorite student ends up getting married, Mr. Kabiri doesn't want to accept that neither his own dream of building an observatory behind town nor seeing Sepideh succeed will come true.

But Sepideh collects her will and brings the battle for the stars down to the ground. She becomes more determined than ever to make the teenager’s dream become a young woman’s reality.

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