Storyville: Bride for Sale - Sonita

Storyville: Bride for Sale - Sonita



Sonita Alizadeh, like many teenage girls, dreams of becoming a pop star, and reveres her idol the R&B singer Rihanna. Unlike most girls, however, Sonita is an illegal Afghan immigrant living in Tehran, where women are forbidden to sing solo.

This, though, turns out to be the least of Sonita’s problems, in an inspiring documentary that sees the budding rapper in a race against time, making a bid to take part in a worldwide talent search before her poverty-stricken family sell her off as a child bride – a grim but common Afghani tradition.

Iranian director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s clandestine string-pulling can be distracting at times – money mysteriously changes hands off-screen whenever things threaten to get too sticky – and her wish to stay out of the story means that the film underplays a terrifying trip to Kabul in search of the girl’s birth certificate. Her subject, though, is a real find, and the forceful Sonita’s angry, eloquent raps make this a powerful and unsettling journey.


The story of Sonita, an 18-year-old Afghan immigrant living in Tehran who dreams of pursuing a musical career. In the face of limited opportunities and restrictive laws governing female performers, she nevertheless finds a recording company willing to take her on - but her career is further jeopardised by pressure from her family to return home so she can be sold into marriage.

Cast & Crew

Director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami