Maryam, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, accidentally kills her 65-year-old husband Nasser during a fight and is sentenced to death. The story is set in Iran and Maryam’s plea for forgiveness takes place on Yalda, the night of the Persian of festival, which is defined as the longest night of celebration welcoming the arrival of winter season. According to the law in Iran, Maryam, who had been married for a year, has to appear on a popular TV reality show and seek forgiveness from her stepdaughter Mona. The one-hour-long show, watched by millions across the country, is a mix of TV docudrama and variety show, where Maryam confronts Mona, who will make her decision and a text vote by viewers and the audience present in the studio will decide Maryam’s fate.  This year’s winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic at the Sundance Film Festival.

Director’s biography

Born in Tehran, Iran, in 1972, Massoud Bakhshi has worked as film critic, scriptwriter and producer, before making 12 documentaries and short films which were awarded internationally. His first feature film A Respectable Family was selected at Cannes Film Festival 2012 (Quinzaine des réalisateurs). Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness is his second feature film, selected at the Word Cinema Dramatic Competition Sundance Film Festival 2020 and at the 70th Berlin International Film Festival Generation 14+ Competition 2020.

Festivals and awards

Grand Jury Prize – Sundance Film Festival 2020
Best Screenplay – Sofia International Film Festival 2020
Berlin International Film Festival 2020


Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness (fic.)
Director: Massoud Bakhshi
Country: France, Iran, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg
Year: 2019.
Runtime: 89′
Language: Persian
Cast: Sadaf Asgari, Behnaz Jafari, Babak Karimi
Production: JBA Productions, NiKo Film, Close Up Films

International Selection