I am Nasrine
A secretly-filmed drama imbued with a sense of excitement and an element of poetry
This BAFTA-nominated debut feature from Iranian-born and British-based filmmaker Tina Gharavi begins on the streets of Tehran, where the middle-class 16-year-old Nasrine (Micsha Sadeghi) is arrested for the crime of riding on the back of a motorbike in the company of a man who is not her relative. Having been sexually assaulted by the morality police, she is forced by her father to leave Iran and to head to England as an asylum seeker. She and her brother Ali (Shiraz Haq) find themselves on a Tyneside council estate, relying on his cash-in-hand jobs at a car wash and kebab shop for money. Nasrine is befriended at school by a Traveller girl Nicole (Nicole Halls) and becomes romantically involved with the latter’s older brother Leigh (Steven Hooper), but the 9/11 terrorist attacks see a hardening of local attitudes towards so-called ‘foreigners’.
The low-budget I am Nasrine is not without flaws: Gharavi over-does the wild animal symbolism in her imagery, whilst the plot-line involving Ali’s sexual orientation – echoes here of Sally el Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil - risks weighing down the screenplay with ‘issues’ which the protagonists must confront. Yet Gharavi should be commended for her clandestine filming in the Iranian capital - she herself had to smuggle out the subsequent footage - and the film, thanks partly to Sadeghi’s engaging performance, captures Nasrine’s sense of excitement at creating a new life in spite of so many obstacles. Alongside the forbidding tower blocks and cramped interiors, Gharavi finds an element of poetry in the wide-open spaces of the North East countryside through which Nasrine passes in her journey of self-discovery.
Limited release from Fri 14 Jun.