Films & Schedules

  • The Stoning of Soraya M.

  • Cyrus Nowrasteh

116 minutes

Production Company:
Mpower Pictures
Executive Producer:
Thomas J. Papa, Lisa Maria Falcone, Diane Hendricks
Steve McEveety, John Shepherd
Cyrus Nowrasteh, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, based on the book by Freidoune Sahebjam
Production Designer:
Judy Rhee
Joel Ransom
Geoffrey Rowland
Dennis Baxter
John Debney
Principal Cast: Shohreh Aghdashloo, Mozhan Marnò, Jim Caviezel, Navid Negahban, Ali Pourtash

Sunday September 0706:15PM AMC 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1002:45PM AMC 9 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1209:15PM AMC 1 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Based on a true story, and the internationally best-selling book by Freidoune Sahebjam, lifts a cloak from the darker side of religious fundamentalism, gender apartheid and mob rule. Director Cyrus Nowrasteh, working with co-writer Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh, has recreated a true story as a moving narrative, resulting in what is sure to be one of the year's most talked-about films.

It is August 1986, the early days of Khomeini-era Iran. An undercover French journalist (Jim Caviezel) finds himself in a small southwestern village when his car breaks down. He is anxious to leave, but while his vehicle is being repaired, a very persistent woman named Zahra (Academy Award®-nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo) implores him to come behind the courtyard walls of her home. She then recounts an extraordinary story, telling him that an innocent woman had been killed the day before at the hands of everyone she knew.

Soraya (Mozhan Marnò) has sustained years of suffering after her arranged marriage to Ali. When he wants a divorce to marry a fourteen-year-old girl, Soraya refuses, knowing that she and her children would starve. Ali is too poor to return her dowry, as is the custom in divorce, so plots with the newly installed counterfeit mullah to accuse Soraya of adultery, a crime punishable by stoning under Shariah law.

The law forces an accused woman to prove her innocence, a task made impossible for Soraya after Ali blackmails several townsmen into lying. A tribunal is called, but the conclusion is foregone. Though the punishment is abhorrent to many villagers, they begin the rituals that must precede her death.

The Stoning of Soraya M. is a harsh story told with a dignity befitting the woman it memorializes, and the film has an authenticity that further engages our emotions. A hopeful and noble heart is found in the performances of Aghdashloo and Marnò, who create characters fierce in their love for each other and bonded in both joy and blood.

That stoning is prohibited by Islam yet still practised in this village is just one of the dichotomies this film explores. In this story, we find another reminder of the harsh oppression that threatens to destroy the nobility and grace of Persian culture. In Farsi, Soraya means “peace be with you.” May it be.

Jane Schoettle

Cyrus Nowrasteh was born in Boulder, Colarado. He attended the University of Southern California for cinema, and has worked as a writer on several television series and films. He was awarded the PEN Literary Award for best teleplay for both The Day Reagan Was Shot (01) and 10,000 Black Men Named George (02). The Stoning of Soraya M. (08) is his first feature film.

Cadillac People's Choice Award