Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness

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


  • Sadaf Asgari
  • Behnaz Jafari
  • Babak Karimi
DVD Features

Bonus Short Film

Directed by Farhad Delaram
Persian with English subtitles
15 minutes

When a young woman tries to renew her driver's license, she comes under police scrutiny because of her tattoos.

Discs: 1

  • Highest Rating
    "A clever, suspenseful exposé of Sharia law. "
    Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "The slick assurance of Bakhshi’s approach makes for an accessible, pacey melodrama...."
    Allan Hunter, Screen Daily
  • Highest Rating
    "Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness is a purposefully provocative drama that forces viewers to consider the dualities of reality and authenticity."
    Roxana Hadadi, RogerEbert.com
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "[I]t is an impressive feature. The intensity is almost non-stop...."
    Hanna B. , Film Threat
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "An intensely crafted, impeccably designed and executed courtroom-style drama."
    Brazilian Press
  • Highest Rating
    "“Yalda” is a unique and powerful film."
    Neely Swanson, Easy Reader News
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "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, RogerEbert.com
  • Highest Rating
    "[A] heady and propulsive 90-minute drama. "
    Rhys Handley, Vague Visages

Awards & Recognition