Theater release: June 26, 2009 by Roadside Attractions; Directed by: Cyrus Nowrasteh; Runtime: 1 hour 56 minutes; Cast: Mozhan Marno (Soraya), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Zahra), Navid Negahban (Ali), Ali Pourtash (Mullah), David Diaan (Ebrahim), Parviz Sayyad (Hashem), James Caviezel (Freidoune)
A Traveler (Freidoune) is stranded in a remote Iranian village when his car brakes down. While he is waiting for the repairs to be completed, he is strangely approached by an older woman named Zahra, who tells him of the terrible events that happened in that very village just one day before.
She told the stranger about how her niece had been unfairly tried, convicted, and stoned. She also said that she wanted the story to get out and be exposed so that her niece’s children would eventually know the truth and hopefully so it wouldn’t happen to others. Freidoune did leave the village with the story and wrote a best selling book on the event which is the basis for this movie–a true story.
The story is incredibly powerful and horrible all at the same time. Soraya was falsely accused of adultery by her husband in order to get her out of the way and marry a wealthy younger woman. The Mullah, the Mayor, and the witness were all manipulated into supporting the accusation and execution. It isn’t till after the stoning that some begin to question their involvement in the process.
By the way, the portrayal of the stoning itself is far worse than I expected and definitely not appropriate for children of any age. To add to the horror, Soraya’s own father is chosen to cast the first stone, and worse yet her own children participate. To make it even more surreal and horrifying, some entertainers and clowns arrive in the village turn the stoning into a festive event.
This movie exposes the lack of rights that women are still living under in Muslim villages today in many parts of the Middle East. Unfortunately stoning is also still going on in far too many places in the Muslim world.