Canadian immigration authorities denied travel visas to two Iranian actresses – Mahour Jabbari and Shayesteh Sajadi – who were scheduled to attend the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) where their film “Ava” received an honorouable mention, the film’s writer-director Sadaf Foroughi told The Hollywood Reporter on 7 September 2017.
Both actresses applied for travel visas through the Canadian embassy in Turkey, since Canada does not have an embassy in Iran. In the refusal letter received by Sajadi, the embassy expressed its concerns around the possibility of the actress overstaying her visa. Additionally, the embassy declared not being satisfied with the actress’ application, among other factors, because of “her travel history, family ties in Canada and in the country of residence, the purpose of visit, and current employment, and economic situation”. Jabbari received a similar letter describing her situation as a “questionable purpose for the visit”.
Though event organisers were involved in assisting the actresses, providing visa support letters during the process, their efforts were unsuccessful and the two young actresses missed the film screening. “Ava” is a joint Iranian, Canadian and Qatar production.