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Iranian actresses of TIFF film 'Ava' denied entry to Canada

Director Sadaf Foroughi attends the Toronto International Film Festival announcement of Canadian features in Toronto on Aug. 9 , 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

The Toronto International Film festival says the talent of two Iranian actresses denied entry to Canada is shining nonetheless as their film screens for audiences this weekend.

Tehran-born, Montreal-based director Sadaf Foroughi says the Canadian embassy in Turkey prevented the teens from attending Friday’s TIFF premiere of “Ava.”

But Foroughi says, “the girls and I are looking forward to our future screenings and lots of other good things which I’m sure will come” for the film, a Canadian co-production with Iran and Qatar.

The film’s publicist notes that Mahour Jabbari, 17, and Shayesteh Sajadi, 18, received near-identical letters doubting their stated purpose of visiting Canada.

Sajadi’s letter specifically questions whether she has “sufficient funds, including income or assets” to support herself in Canada and ensure she returns to Iran.

The festival says it wanted to host the teens in Toronto and provided visa support letters to that effect.

Jabbari stars as the titular Ava, a 16-year-old upper-class girl who chafes against family and societal restrictions in Tehran. Sajadi plays Ava’s friend, Melody.