Nila’s Dream in the Garden of Eden

11.04.2024 Cinema release in Germany

Nila’s dream in the Garden of Eden
by Niloufar Taghizadeh

Documentary film | 98 min| 2023 | FSK 12

Leyla and her six-year-old daughter Nila live in the Holy City of Mashad in Iran and are inseparable. Nila was conceived in a “temporary marriage” and is therefore legally non-existent. She has no papers and is not allowed to attend school. When the father threatens to take the child away from the mother, Leyla fights tooth and nail for custody of her daughter. The documentary portrays Leyla’s energetic efforts to clarify Nila’s legal status in order to offer her a perspective for the future. Leyla fights not only against the inhumane legal system, but also against the double standards of a society that mercilessly condemns women like her. Director Niloufar Taghizadeh shot this film over three years, mostly undercover, in strictly state-monitored facilities in Iran. With “Nila’s Dream in the Garden of Eden”, she gives a voice to the countless children and women who have been marginalized by a male-dominated regime for decades. A cinematic plea for freedom and equality.

Production note from the director.

I was born in Mashhad and lived there until I was 18. Leyla Biouk was a classmate.

What concerns me about Leyla and Nila’s story is that a large part of society and also the law in Iran always sees women as guilty. There are even places of worship that can be used for temporary marriage or prostitution, but women pay the price for this freedom. And time and again, families declare their own daughters guilty of rape and punish them for the suffering they have experienced. These incidents seem surreal and unbelievable and yet they are the bitter reality in one of the largest Shiite pilgrimage sites in the Middle East.

The film is not about a strict religion, but about a self-loathing society. It is about the deeply rooted ambiguity and misogyny in Iranian society, which is not only religious and political in origin, but much more cultural. A tradition of hatred towards women has been established over decades and this determines everyday interaction. The film reveals the complex interrelationships of Iranian society and the value system behind it and shows the different sides.

For me, “Nila’s Dream in the Garden of Eden” is a universal film about human behavior. Marginalized groups, especially women, are not only pro Translated with (free version)