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Letter to My Mother


A heartfelt letter to tell the most painful of secrets. Amina, who in 2002 was the small protagonist of Ten by Kiarostami is now a transgender director who tries to make her voice heard and understood.

Amina Maher’s relationship with her mother has already been captured on film: she starred as the memorable child passenger driven by her mother (the filmmaker Mania Akbari) in Abbas Kiarostami’s Ten (2002). Almost two decades later, Maher turns her own camera on this relationship, addressing what was not, or could not be said between them on that drive through Tehran.

Letter to My Mother is a deeply personal exploration of gender identity and childhood trauma. In revisiting the familiar image of herself in Ten, Maher presents a dual reckoning with the established narratives of both personal memory and cinematic history. She also introduces her own radical aesthetic: bold images of a distinct punk sensibility contrasted with a softer, affective focus on intimate materials such as skin and hair.

The film plays with the notion of authority, presenting disparate sources of testimony that are fraught with contradictions. However, the epistolary nature of the film ensures that Maher’s is the ultimate authorial voice: she is the writer of her own story. In Ten, Maher stated “I am only a child, I cannot belong to myself.” Letter to My Mother suggests that perhaps she now does.

Jessica McGoff 

Director's filmography: Narges (2021), One Window Will Suffice (2016), Orange (2015), Sweet Gin and Cold Wine (2014)


  • Director Amina Maher
  • Country Germany, Iran, Malaysia
  • Year 2019
  • Duration 19 min
  • UK Premiere


Bill Douglas Award 4: Against the Grain

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