Reaching for the Stars: a teenage girl from Iran dreams of becoming an astronomer

Angela Watercutter – Wired.Co.UK – Wednesday, 29 January 2014 (originally published on 24 Jan)

Teenage girl with photo of Albert Einstein
Mohammad Reza and Jahan Panah Image: Sundance Institute

Reaching for the Stars is an earnest and inspiring documentary about a teenage Iranian girl who dreams of being an astronomer. It’s been getting a lot of attention since its recent debut at the ongoing Sundance Film Festival, but for anyone not fortunate enough — or cold-resilient enough — to be in Park City, there’s a speedy alternative: iTunes.

It’s the first time Apple has ever distributed a new film at Sundance to its millions of users in the US and Canada while the movie was still playing at the festival. It’s unknown how long iTunes, which also offered some films during last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, will offer the doc, but it’s currently $7.99 (£4.81) to own and $4.99 (£3) to rent.

Is it worth the money? In short, yes. Sepideh Hooshyar was only 14 years old when director Berit Madsen found her at an astronomy festival in Iran, and subsequently documented the girl — and her quest to become an astronomer despite the opposition of her family — for nearly five years. Initially inspired by Iranian-American space tourist Anousheh Ansari, Hooshyar continually finds new ways to pursue astronomy studies even when her uncle berates her for her aspirations and her mother says their family can’t afford to send her to college . . .

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