In a rural village far from Tehran, the night sky glows brilliantly, unimpeded by light pollution, and a teenage girl named Sepideh dreams of becoming a renowned astronomer. Lugging a telescope as tall as herself, Sepideh spends her nights stargazing, inspired by Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space. But achieving such a lofty ambition is easier said than done for an Iranian girl. Her uncle threatens something rash if Sepideh persists in her unladylike behavior, and her widowed mother warns that she cannot pay for the necessary schooling. Unphased, Sepideh composes impassioned missives to Albert Einstein and keeps her eyes on the prize. Yet when she’s passed over for a university scholarship and suitors come knocking at the door, her determination is seriously tested.
The camera is everywhere we want it to be in this magical documentary—charting the strained, yet devoted, relationship between daughter and mother and capturing unexpected moments that will change Sepideh’s life forever. Shots of breathtaking constellations are windows into Sepideh’s interior world and the vast universe that enthralls her. - C.L.
About the Director
Berit Madsen graduated from the film school Ateliers Varan in Paris and furthered her studies at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. She is presently completing a PhD in ethnography and social anthropology from Aarhus University. Most of Madsen’s films have screened at festivals across the world and aired on everything from pay television in the U.S. to public television in Nepal. SEPIDEH—Reaching for the Stars is her first feature documentary.
THE SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL IS ONE PROGRAM OF SUNDANCE INSTITUTE, A NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION THAT
DISCOVERS AND SUPPORTS INDEPENDENT FILM AND THEATRE ARTISTS FROM THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD
AND INTRODUCES AUDIENCES TO THEIR NEW WORK.