Original Title




Production Year


Country of Origin


Language Spoken

Kurdish, Persian


93 mins


Arsalan Amiri
Ida Panahandeh, Arsalan Amiri, Tahmineh Bahram   


Navid Pourfaraj, Pouria Rahimi Sam, Hoda Zeinolabedin

Production Company
Touba Films

Samira Baradari, Rouhollah Baradari 

October 2021
Venice Critics’ Week (Winner: Fipresci, Grand Prize) 
Toronto Midnight Madness 
Fantastic Fest (Winner: Best Film – Next Wave)


In 1978, the inhabitants of a small village in Iran called Zalava claim there is a demon among them. Massoud, a young gendarmerie sergeant, who investigates this claim encounters an exorcist attempting to rid the village of the demon. When he arrests the exorcist on charges of fraud, the villagers fear and anger escalates. Massoud and his love interrest, a government doctor, soon find themselves trapped in a cursed house, surrounded by villagers who believe they are both possessed by the demon.



Zalava is my first feature film. My goal was to make a film that represents me; a portrayal of my childhood, my region, and life experience as an Iranian Kurdish minority. My parents are from two different Islamic denominations: Sunni and Shiite. I remember my grandfathers who were poles apart. One was a simple religious man who believed in the world after death, and the other was a materialist epicurean who was satisfied with earthly treasures. When my religious grandfather told me about Jinn (genie) for the first time, my dilemma began.


As a little boy, I questioned the existence of this supernatural invisible creature made from fire, but did not have the courage to speak up about it. Eventually, I forced myself to believe, because I did not want to be punished by genies in the middle of the night. I outgrew these stories and my fears. Years later, as I searched for a unique story for my first feature film, my dad shared a story about one of my ancestors who enslaved a genie by attaching a pin to his clothes! It was pure magical realism and surprisingly my father believed it. At that moment, I knew I found my film. With a theme of “belief” that would not let me go from childhood until now. The moment I understood we are nothing but what we believe, or what we choose to believe. Meanwhile, we must sometimes look back at our values – to let doubt and uncertainty judge our rigid ideas. This can lead us to a better life, or maybe a tragedy! And tragedy is awareness.

Arsalan Amiri

Born on April 22, 1975 in Kurdistan, Iran. Amiri holds a B.A. in Film Directing from Art University of Tehran and Master’s in Dramatic Literature from University of Tehran. In 2003, He began to write scripts, edit, and make documentaries. His first co-written feature script, Nahid (2015), directed by Ida Panahandeh, won the Promising Future Prize in Un Certain Regard at the 68th Cannes Film Festival. He continued his collaboration with Panahandeh in her last three films: Israfil (2017), The Nikaidos’ Fall (2018- Japan & Hong Kong), and TiTi ‌(2020) as co-writer, editor, and producer. He made his first feature film, Zalava in 2021 in Kurdistan of Iran.

Arsalan Amiri on making a realistic genre film, Zalava, in Iran

At Seventh Row, we pride ourselves on seeking out the best hidden gems that nobody’s talking about to ensure that our readers never miss a great film again.

Zalava had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prize of the Venice Film Critics’ Week and the FIPRESCI International Award. Before the film’s North American premiere in the Midnight Madness section of TIFF, I sat down via Zoom with Amiri and Panahandeh to discuss Zalava, collaborating on each other’s films, and merging genre filmmaking with realism. 

Seventh Row (7R): What made you want to tell the story? Where did this idea come from?

Arsalan Amiri:
The idea came from my father, who told me a story about one of our ancestors, who captured a kind of demon in Islamic cultures. He wanted the demon to do things for him, like a slave, like bring water from the river. Read full interview


Samira Baradari


Samira Baradari, Born in 1980, educated in the field of social science and holder of a filmmaking certificate from the young filmmakers association and documentary films from whistling woods  International school in Mumbai. She started her career in the field of photography in 1998 and received her first filmmaking experience in 2002 as a production manager. During this period, she performed as First Assistant to the director as well as Scriptsupervisor in more than 20 movies. She has experience working with well-known directors such as Farzad Mo’tamen, Behrouz Afkhami, Syrus Alvand, Shahram Mokri, Majid Barzegar, Vahid Mousaeian , Reza Serkanian, and… She also directed some short films and documentary films such as Crimson red which was granted the best director and best film prize in Iranian short film Festivals, as well as documentaries such as Born of a Wish and Slum within. The Risk of Acid Rain was her first experience in producing which was presented in various international film festivals and granted prizes for the film as well as its screenplay.


Rouhollah Baradari


Rouhollah Baradari, born in 1955, holder of a second grade Art degree equivalent to Master degree in Art, he has also been active in the field of professional theater. On the theatre stage, he began working with the theatrical group of “Andisheh” since 1975. He experienced his first cinematic activity in 1981 as producer and actor in the movie Parchamdar directed by Mr. Shahriar Bahrani. After years of experience in the professional and Holy Defense film industry as a production manager and  producer, he added monumental productions such as The Attack on H3 and Sajjadeh Atash to his professional workbook. He was also the Executive producer of the television series called Prophet Yusuf.  From 1995, with the establishment of the Tuba Film Institute, he focused more on the production of movies in Iranian Cinema and produced movies such as Bitter Dream, Silence of the Sea and The risk of Acid Rain all having numerous presences in various festivals and succeeding to receive various prizes and which are admired by audiences among his best works. He is currently active in the private sector as an Independent producer and Managing Director of ToAauba film.


Navid Pourfaraj


Navid Pourfaraj, born on May 2, 1988 in Kermanshah, is an Iranian actor. He was nominated for Best Actor at the Fajr Film Festival in three seasons for all of his films: Rusty Little Brains, Bone Marrow and Zalava.

Hoda Zeinolabedin


Hoda Zeinolabedin (born June 13, 1989) is an Iranian film and television actress, as well as photographer and model. She is’ most well known for playing the role of Fatemeh in The Fall of an Angel series. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for the film Cold Sweat at the 36th Fajr Film Festival.

Pouria Rahimi Saam


Pouria Rahimi Saam, born in February 1982 in Rasht, is a graduate student of dramatic literature. He started his acting career in 2000, appearing in theater and films. His film career includes titles such as Bulletproof, Ice Age and Istanbul Crossroads, as well as Nahid, which showed at the Cannes Film Festival. 

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