Cutting Through Rocks

Iran, Duitsland - 2022 - Mohammad Reza Eyni, Sara Khaki - 90 min.

Production €17.500,-

Women's empowerment

Synposis Sara Shahverdi, 38, just won a local election in her remote Iranian village as a councilwoman. Now comes the real test: challenging the tradition of child-marriage and transforming the lives of teenage girls by opening the first girl high school and creating an all-female motorcycle gathering.

Trailer + fragment:

Structure of the film

Through a three-act structure, Cutting Through Rocks will follow Sara Shahverdi as she runs for a council seat, promotes against child marriage, and offers a pathway to a different future for women and girls. about, but also to follow a social issue that is sensitive to Iranian law.


Risk-taking is mutually common among both the filmmakers and the characters of this film. What makes it risky is that by governmental law, Iranian families can marry off their daughters as young as 13 years of age. Based on a trusted news agency, only over the past 3 months (and during covid,), there were 7000 child marriages recorded in the country. The Iranian Legal and Judicial Committee, recently dismissed the changing of the law to raise the age of marriage to 16, for “contradicting with Islamic jurisdiction, current laws, and social norms.” Therefore, Sara Shahverdi is practically asking her community to push against social norms, and that is risky. Also, the filmmakers are taking risks, not only for choosing a strong and empowering female character to make a film about, but also to follow a social issue that is sensitive to Iranian law.

“From a female director’s perspective, growing up as the last of five children in my middle-class family in Tehran, every weekend my parents were prepared for a new suitor for my older sister, Leila, who was about 18 at the time. But Leila would smartly somehow find a way to say ‘no,’ to the suitors and the arguments would begin from there. This is perhaps one of my darkest memories, as I felt extremely lost as to why my parents are pushing Leila to get married so much when she felt violated by the idea. What stood out to me over time was Leila and her amazing power to resist. Leila is the first in my family to have immigrated abroad to pursue her education. She is now a P.H.D. holder, happily married to a man of her choice.”

Sara Khaki

Filmmaking in Iran

A Quote from Isabel Arrate Fernandez (director IDFA Bertha Fund)

"Filmmaking in Iran is not supported by the government. It is therefore impossible to make critical films. In some cases this still happens at the risk of their own life. The filmmakers are constantly navigating between creative ambitions and looking for loopholes in the system. The threat that subsequently arises against the filmmakers is not evident and is not in black and white. Often they find out through-via that they have been blacklisted. And that makes it even more difficult, because afterwards they have to constantly weigh up what to do. Suppression revives in vagueness and ambiguity. In doing so, the state drives the subjects crazy. That is why the IDFA Bertha Fund finds it so important to support makers with a good project. To give them recognition and hope."

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The fundapplication for this film is €17.500,-.

In consultation with you, we prepare a tailor-made private package that consists of, for example, free tickets for the première of the film (including a substantive Q&A) during IDFA, a meet & greet with the filmmaker and your name in the credits of the film.

Founded in 1988, IDFA has grown into the world's leading documentary film institute. Activities for film professionals and general audiences take place throughout the year, with the festival in November as the highlight. A high-quality range of committed, cinematographically interesting documentaries will be screened for 12 days in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.