September 14 – Sonita Screening


Each of us has a unique view through which we see the world. Shaped by our experiences, culture, and familial identity, this view forms our beliefs, values, and way of life. A New View Film Series journeys outside everyday life to explore new worldviews through the screening of six films. Each screening is be followed by a discussion with the audience. The first film screening this year took place on September 14 and the film shown was Sonita.

Sonita follows the inspiring story of how a young Afghani refugee in Iran channels her frustrations and seizes her destiny through music after her family tries to sell her into a marriage. Through this film, the audience is given insight into the transformative power of art, and how art may be used to overcome adversity of many kinds.

The discussion following Sonita was centered around the hardships she faced living as a refugee and what life is like for a young woman in Iran. Sonita lived and went to school far from her mother and brothers, as they remained in Afghanistan. The audience discussed that most people in the United States do not view Iran as a haven or a place of refuge for displaced people. For Sonita and many others who seek safety, it is another world.

A turning point in the film was when Sonita received a call from her mother, whom she had not seen in many years, instructing that she come back to Afghanistan to be married. Initially the audience wanted to blame the mother for wanting her daughter to give up her safety and education for a dowry, but one audience member thought that the mother’s intentions were those of a mother who was desperate in her attempts to provide for her whole family. Sonita’s mother knew that Sonita would be giving up her education and safety in Iran, but her dowry was the only way to keep her family afloat.

An audience member pointed out that the relationship between Sonita and the documentary staff was not conventional. Essentially, the documentary crew bought Sonita for six months in order to shoot the film as well as keep Sonita from getting married for at least that period of time. At one point in the film, Sonita wanted the camera to be turned off so she could take off her hijab (hair covering) and go to bed but instead, the woman continued asking her questions. The audience felt a little bit uneasy during that clip but discussed: was it still better than her alternative? Sonita was given six months before she was forced to marry, yet she still ended up being bought.

Sonita had a full audience and one that was engaged until the very end of the event. The audience was diverse with a mix of ages and races that provided many different perspectives to the conversation.

A New View Film Series is presented and facilitated by the Desmond Tutu Center, Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and the Center for Faith and Vocation.


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