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First Arab Woman Astronaut Fulfills Lifelong Dream, Echoes 2013 Doc, Sepideh – Reaching for the Stars

  • 11 months ago

In early July, the UAE announced it had selected 28 year-old mechanical engineer Nora al-Matrooshi to train as an astronaut for its expanding space program, and will be joining NASA;s 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class in the U.S., making her the first Arab woman to ascend to that position and, eventually, to the cosmos as well. At the announcement, Al-Matrooshi said that being a part of the UAE’s space program, which recently launched a probe into orbit on Mars, was her “dream as a child.”

Al-Matrooshi’s dream was shared by a 16 year-old Iranian woman, Sepideh, in the 2013 doc Sepideh – Reaching for the Stars (Berit Madsen, 2013). The film captures the young woman’s passion for astronomy, which leads her to nightly stargazing excursions in the desert, plans for university education, and clashes with her family, who want her to remain firmly grounded and on a conventional route focused on domesticity. Sepideh contacts the first female Persian spaceflight participant, Anousheh Ansari, who helps set her on a new course.

Sepideh – Reaching for the Stars is a Persian-language, Danish feature-length documentary, which showed at SDFF 2013, Sundance 2014, and won the Maysles Brothers Award at the 14th Annual Belfast Film Festival. The film is available to rent for under a dollar on Apple TV.

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