Fereshteh, a young student, lives alone in Tehran with her baby. When her parents announce their arrival in town, she must immediately find a solution to keep her daughter, whom they never knew existed. But no one wants to take on that responsibility. Anchored in the reality of a young single mother, Just one night describes a country with a terrible climate. This seemingly taboo search for a babysitter reflects the social and political pressures that weigh on Iranian women. An endless day echoing with the news of a nation in turmoil.
A young student living in Tehran, Fereshteh (Sadaf Asgari) receives a call from his parents that will change his day. On a surprise visit to town, they invite themselves into his home for the night. Problem: Her parents don’t know that their daughter has a baby that she is raising alone. Fereshteh only had a few hours with him to find someone he could trust with his son.
With the help of his loyal friend Atefeh (Ghazal Shojaei), Fereshteh tries to find a solution by attracting those around him. But the girl was chained with rejections and withdrawal from people came close. Neighbors, friends, acquaintances… no one wants to be responsible for taking care of their baby. Even just one night…
At the origin of this second feature film by Ali Asgari, a short film he directed in 2014. Inspired by a photo of two girls taken on the street and the confidences of a friend of the director, The baby evoke a desire for children that is suppressed by a traditional family and the rejection of marriage. Eight years later, Ali Asgari does not think that Iranian society has changed much to this degree and continues this obstacle course to keep a baby in the long version.
If living with a lover outside of marriage began to be accepted for a girl, raising a child alone remains taboo. This situation as a single mother hated by society greatly complicates Fereshteh’s task of entrusting her baby. This search for a babysitter for the night, a seemingly very holy step, becomes, in the rejections, a stressful journey that shows a society under pressure.
Shot as close as possible to reality, Just one night the tension builds gradually making this quest for the care of the child a true way of the cross. When Fereshteh received the call from her parents, her first instinct was to empty her apartment of all her son’s belongings. There should be no clues left that allow them to discover the shameful status in their eyes as a young single mother.
Fereshteh asked his neighbors to collect these things, which must have been very difficult for a creature that was still so small. A big step involves a supply of diapers stored in a closet. A caution symbolizing the anxiety of the young mother in the face of the economic crisis affecting Iran. Due to social pressure, the young woman could not admit the real reason for this big trouble and claimed anti-insect treatment in her apartment.
The first lie says a lot about the impossibility of assuming her situation as a young single mother with her neighbors and the isolation in which she finds herself. When the neighbors are reluctant to accept his possessions, their unenthusiastic or even suspicious reactions suggest a more complicated journey than expected. Fereshteh is indeed fighting against the laws of a government that makes what should be a simple formality so complicated. In this great patriarchal system, some try to take advantage of its weak position. With the law as his ally, the chief doctor that Fereshteh met was one of those prominent people who had no qualms about trying to take advantage of the system.
But the obstacles facing the young woman go beyond the simple application of a restrictive law. The young mother’s journey of struggle is also due to social and cultural rejection that is deeply rooted in people’s minds. Neighbors who are reluctant to help or a friend’s husband who categorically refuses to accept the baby symbolize the reluctance to help the woman who has placed herself in a situation that is considered defective.
In Fereshteh’s entourage, everyone is subject to this social pressure that encourages them not to get too involved in the problems of others to avoid possible retaliation. Especially when it comes to being responsible for the baby of a young single mother. Be it moral conviction or fear, everyone has good reason to close their door to the young student.
When a woman refuses, Just one night transcending the idea that concern should only come from the male perspective. This patriarchal pressure that complicates Fereshteh’s mission is fully embodied by this woman who judges him morally. Far from any female solidarity, the woman asked clearly does not support the idea of liberating Iranian women. The confrontation is not experienced through the prism of woman/man but as an opposition between traditional ideas and reformist aspirations.
Through rejections and trials, Fereshteh falls into the night with her baby in her arms unable to find shelter. Her struggle illuminates the political and social barriers of a society locked, through fear or belief, in positions that deny motherhood living alone. Together with his friend Atefeh, Fereshteh embodies a quiet but determined resistance to a stifling patriarchal culture.
Just one night carries with it the calm breath of a hidden revolution. From this angry youth comes the spark of a grassroots feminist struggle that can drag the rest of the population in her wake. The invasion of politics in Fereshteh’s intimate life is strikingly reflective of the current situation of a country on fire after the death of Mahsa Amini.
The conclusion of Just one night embodies the will of a generation to break with rules and traditions that are considered outdated. In Fereshteh’s arms, this girl, whom no one wants to care for, contains a powerful symbol, the hope of a freer future.
> Just one night (Your Farda), directed by Ali Asgari, Iran, 2020 (1h26)