Ayat Najafi

Ayat Najafi

Jury Member 2019

Ayat Najafi is an Iranian director and screenwriter. He was born in 1976 in Teheran, where he began his career in the theater environment.

In 1995 he founded a university theater company, and at the same time he took part in numerous theatrical productions in the most varied roles: assistant director, author, actor and set designer. This link with the theater world still exists today and reflects on his cinematographic production.

The turning point happened in year 2000, when he started to make personal works as a director. In 2003 he founded the Arta Atelier, which is recognizes as an experimental center offering a  multimedia approach to theater, short films and documentaries.

In 2005 he took part in the Berlinale Talent Campus by presenting his short film Move it (2004); the following year he moved to the German capital city, where he still lives today. At the International Berlin Film Festival he also presented his first documentary Football Undercover, co-directed with David Assman, a work that tells the story of the first women’s football match played in Iran after the ‘ revolution in 1979. Thanks to this work Najafi won two Teddy Awards at the Berlin Film Festival, one specifically awarded for his work being the “Best Documentary”, and many other prizes awarded at  over 50 international festivals. For the first time in this work we can understand the poetry that the director puts into his work: his wish to make people reflect, to communicate the sense of life, of beauty and trying to reveal the problems among far away countries, not much geographically but mostly culturally apart.

After this success Ayat Najafi continued to work as a director and playwright and many of his works are staged in Berlin. He is member of the Jury in various international festivals and writes articles and essays for several German and Iranian magazines and newspapers.

In 2014 he presented the documentary No Land’s Song at the Montreal World Film Festival, that will soon become another success. By narrating this story of music giving it a feminine interpretation, Najafi not only tries to express his dreams but wants to use the power of art to communicate and fight against injustice.

Finally, in 2016 he presented the short film Nothing Has Ever Happened Here, a reportage on the possible devastating effects of a war in Iran that has never taken place.



Nothing has ever happened here (2016), short movie
No land’s song (2014), documentary
Football Under Cover (2008), documentary
Move it (2005), short movie


No Land’s Song (2014)

No Land’s Song represents one of Ayat Najafi’s most recent achievements. Presented at countless festivals and distributed in 2014, it obtained an international consensus. It is a documentary dedicated to the consequences of the 1979 Revolution. In particular, it tells the story of a young composer, Sara Najafi, who decides to organize a women solo concert in Teheran, violating the law of the new regime that explicitly forbids it.

“How can the beauty of music represent a struggle against the absurdity and ignorance of human law?” The documentary is also addressed to the antagonists of history, to those who have determined this problem and who consider female voices as a potential danger.