Iranian short film The Doll has won the Best International Short Documentary Award at Canada’s HotDocs film festival. The Doll is now eligible for Academy Award of Best Short Documentary in 2022.
The 33-minute film is directed, written and produced by Elahe Esmaili. The award includes a $3,000 cash prize courtesy of HotDocs. The Hot Docs jury statement said: "The jury proudly awards the prize for the best international short film to The Doll for its complex and nuanced portrait of a family caught between traditions and personal values.
“With a sensitive and attentive look at her subjects, the filmmaker offers us a film of incredible richness on a human experience that would be easy to judge from a Western point of view. Unsettling, endearing, and sometimes even shocking, this film will not leave anyone indifferent."
The film is about 14 year-old Asal, whose father Alireza, after consulting with relatives, approves his daughter’s marriage even though she is so young and in the ninth grade.
He has consulted with his relatives and each has their own opinion but to most of them underaged marriage is not an ideal option. There are, however, many factors for them to consider: Alireza, divorced recently, has financial problems and is living at his workplace.
There’s concern about the potential for Asal to pursue relationships with boys outside of Islamic marriage and, on top of this, the suitor seems like a good candidate. Asal herself doesn't argue the decision as she has reasons of her own to pursue the marriage. As the story unfolds it investigate a family’s attitudes and perspectives as they reconcile an imminent underage marriage.
Elahe Esmaili was born in 1990 in Mashhad, Iran, and is a MA student at the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS) and a BA alumna from Tehran University of Art and is a member of Iran's National Elites Foundation. Further festival screenings for the film are due over coming months.
The Doll trailer: