Love Child @ Human Rights Film Festival

People living in the Western World watching this documentary can give thanks that they live where they do and they don’t have to think about worrying about their lives when having an affair plus are able to end a marriage which is not working out via divorce. Not so for people living in Iran. This is a film which shows the human face of the cost of not having such simple rights.

Two adults have fallen in love here. The problem is that they are married and live in Iran. Though they are married to other people, Leila and Sahand have fallen in love in a country where divorce is forbidden and adultery is punishable by death. In order to be together they have decided to flee from their home country. Leave they families and everyone else they know to be together.

They are running for their lives. Along with them they bring Leila’s son Mani, who believes that Sahand is his uncle, but in actuality he is his son. Living together as a family for the first time in a strange land places a lot of stress on all. Especially four-year-old Mani as he does not really understand what is happening and does not react well when told that Sahand is his father.

Stress is amplified as a result of the ever tightening asylum laws. They thought they would be able to move on from Turkey quickly, but that is not the case. As such they spend plenty of time together and get to know each other in a way they never had before. Good thing? Bad thing? As the years pass the tension never really dips.

The couple left Iran in 2012, fleeing to Turkey and having to face seeking asylum status from the United Nations at the same time in which loads of Syrian refugees were also fleeing their country due to the war. They caught in the sea of people looking for humanitarian status.

Director Eva Mulvad follows the family everywhere and over the course of years. Her camera captures all from video chats with friends at home to Mani having a meltdown. It also shows all the hoops they have to jump through like securing papers proving Mani parentage and that Leila and Sahand are divorced. Plus proof that they risk death back in Iran. Things are layered and complex.

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