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The Exam

1h 29m Drama, Thriller 2021

Women’s liberation gets the high-stakes treatment in this slick Kurdish thriller about two sisters swindling their way to academic success.

In the Iraqi-Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, teenager Rojin is facing down an ultimatum from her widowed father: pass her university entrance exams or be foisted off into an arranged marriage. For her elder sister Shilan – trapped in her own loveless marriage to a controlling husband – the pressures are vividly real, and she will stop at nothing to guarantee Rojin’s emancipation through education. Fearing failure, the sisters find themselves drawn into the dangerous underground world of professional exam cheaters.

Leading Kurdish filmmaker Shawkat Amin Korki takes the material of a social-issues drama and torques it into a tightly wound suspense piece, ratcheting up the escalating stakes for Rojin and Shilan as their methods become increasingly desperate. Featuring tremendous performances from leads Vania Salar and Hama Rashid Haras, and with noir-like widescreen photography by DOP Adib Sobhani, this 2021 Karlovy Vary FIPRESCI Prize winner telescopes out into a nail-biting portrait of single-minded ambition and the complexities of ethics across contemporary Kurdish society.

“A richly textured combination of social drama and crime thriller … Highly entertaining.” – Variety


Mehmet Aktaş


Shawkat Amin Korki


Mohamed Reza Gohari


Adib Sobhani


Mehmûd Berazî


Kurdish, with English subtitles


Germany, Iraq, Kurdistan

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