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The Independent Critic

Hannah Ord, Hiftu Quasem, Maryam Hamidi, Ikram Gilani, and Amir Rahimzadeh
Bita Shafipour
Christopher M. Boyd, Bita Shafipour
21 Mins.

 Hannah Ord Shines in "Last Night in Edinburgh" 
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Bita Shafipour's Last Night in Edinburgh features a BAFTA Award-winning performance from newcomer Hannah Ord as Hoda, the youngest of two sisters who discover that their planned family trip abroad is really a plan by their parents to deliver them into forced marriages. Each determined to stop the plan in their own way, Hoda and Zahra (Hiftu Quasem) put in motion a plan that will test their bond and the resolve of the adults who control their futures. 

The film, which is screening during the Seattle Shorts FIlm Festival from November 11-13, was nominated for Best Drama - Scotland, New Talent and Ord picked up the prize for Best Actress in the same awards. Having screened at a slew of film festivals, Last Night in Edinburgh is a remarkably memorable film that addresses the issue of forced marriages, an issue that is most prevalent in developing countries yet known to occur worldwide including the U.K., where the film is set and where in 2014 the U.K.'s Forced Marriage Unit gave advice or support to a possible forced marriage in 1,302 cases. 

Shafipour, who co-wrote the script with Christopher M. Boyd, infuses the film with a sense of urgency yet never completely forsakes those familial ties, an approach that deepens the film's meaning and the audience's investment in everything that's at stake. 

As expected, Ord gives a tremendous performance as Hoda, a young girl who radiates innocence even as she is being potentially forced into a very adult world. However, one shouldn't minimize the similarly strong turn from Hiftu Quasem as Zahra, whose response to the plan is impulsive and potentially life-threatening. As the parents, Maryam Hamidi and Amir Rahimzadeh both shine with Hamidi, in particular, adding a layer of humanity reminding us of the humanity underneath the rituals and traditions. 

The film, being presented by Socially Conscious Arts, is screening as part of the Raising Awareness Block of Shorts in Seattle and will screen at 12:30pm on November 13th at SIFF Film Center. For more information on Seattle Shorts Film Festival, visit the fest's website. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic