Tatami 2023

Directed by Guy Nattiv, Zar Amir Ebrahimi Widescreen

An Iranian judo champ weighs her principles and ambitions against the safety of her family and herself as government forces threaten violence unless she tows the party line, in this riveting political-sports-thriller.

Aug 12

The Civic

Aug 17

Hollywood Avondale

Georgia In Farsi and Hebrew with English subtitles
105 minutes B&W / DCP
Offensive language


Guy Nattiv, Mandy Tagger Brockey, Jaime Ray Newman


Guy Nattiv, Elham Erfani


Todd Martin


Yuval Orr


Dascha Dauenhauer


Arienne Mandi, Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Jaime Ray Newman, Nadine Marshall


Venice 2023; Tokyo 2024


A surprising collaboration between Iranian actress-turned-director Zar Amir Ebrahimi (star of Holy Spider, NZIFF 2023) and US-based Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, Tatami delivers a daring takedown of state oppression via the world of competitive judo. Set at a World Championship event in Tbilisi, Georgia, the film follows rising Iranian judoka Leila Hosseini (a fierce performance from Iranian-American actor and martial artist Arienne Mandi) and her conflicted coach Maryam Ghanbari (given depth and complexity by the excellent Amir Ebrahimi). 

Utilising tight Academy ratio framing and striking black and white cinematography, the filmmakers underscore the constrained circumstances of its female leads: as athletes representing their country, as women in what some see as a masculine sphere, and as people simply pursuing their dreams. Giving a favourable nod to Raging Bull in its spirited mêlée sequences, Tatami deftly conveys the intensity and focus of its embattled protagonist, with Arienne Mandi’s real-world fight experience helping the action to land. And yet, the highest-stake battle is the one happening in between Leila’s judo matches.

In production during the tragic death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, the resulting protests and tragic regime clampdown that followed, Tatami strikes a poignant chord on the ability of Iranian women to decide their own destiny. — Jacob Powell