In Theaters 12.04.2020 or Watch at Home 02.02.2021

Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness

Directed by Massoud Bakhshi
Film Movement
89 Minutes
Iran, France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg
Not Rated

The lights and cameras are all in position. The moderator takes a last quick look at his notes. The final seconds of the intro ad roll by, and then the show goes live. Tonight’s guest is Maryam, a young woman condemned to death for murdering her husband. With her in the studio is Mona, the daughter of the dead man. Maryam is supposed to beg for forgiveness, and her life, for the camera. If Mona grants her forgiveness, Maryam will live, and the show's sponsors will pay Mona a reward. If she denies it, Maryam will die. Millions of television viewers are tuning in on the night of Yalda, the Persian celebration of the winter solstice, to see Maryam's fate unfold. Alluding to a real, popular Iranian TV show, the television studio serves as a stage for a startling chamber play between these two women, and the social pressures behind their circumstances.

Director & Cast

  • Director: Massoud Bakhshi
  • Starring: Sadaf Asgari
  • Starring: Behnaz Jafari
  • Starring: Babak Karimi




  • "A clever, suspenseful exposé of Sharia law. "
    Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
  • "Contrasting Asgari’s emotional volatility with something more reserved, Jafari delivers a memorable performance of many shades as a morally dubious woman involuntarily stuck in a position of crushing power in front of millions rooting for Maryam."
    Tomris Laffly, Variety
  • "The slick assurance of Bakhshi’s approach makes for an accessible, pacey melodrama...."
    Allan Hunter, Screen Daily
  • "Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness is a purposefully provocative drama that forces viewers to consider the dualities of reality and authenticity."
    Roxana Hadadi,
  • "Timely, terrifying, and simultaneously overstrung, Yalda, a Night of Forgiveness is an excellent showcase for the limited instances of potential female agency."
    Nicholas Bell, Ion Cinema
  • "[I]t is an impressive feature. The intensity is almost non-stop...."
    Hanna B. , Film Threat
  • "This emerging filmmaker is showing no signs of dampening his creative intentions. With his latest effort, he's crafted a socially conscious film while making some truly bold cinematic choices."
    Wilson Kwong, Film Inquiry
  • "An intensely crafted, impeccably designed and executed courtroom-style drama."
    Brazilian Press
  • "“Yalda” is a unique and powerful film."
    Neely Swanson, Easy Reader News
  • "The riveting and superbly acted Iranian drama, based on a real variety show, poses a moral crucible born out of a theocratic system that disfavors women amid the heightened tension of the on-camera spectacle."
    Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times
  • "To admit to wrongdoing is to open oneself up to criticism and judgment, and to pardon someone for a transgression against you is to extend grace. The ritual is recognizable—but its transformation into a form of reality television, and the murky questions that arise out of making absolution into entertainment, are compellingly and devastatingly considered in the film “Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness.” Asgari and Jafari . . . are summarily exceptional. "
    Roxana Hadadi,
  • "[A] heady and propulsive 90-minute drama. "
    Rhys Handley, Vague Visages