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Plays in Shorts Program: The Ties that Bind
Sunday, June 16
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg Center

555 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001

Can I Hug You?


Elahe Esmaili


Hossein Behboudi Rad


Delaram Shemirani


Mohamad Hadadi

In the religious city of Qom, Iran, women face strict restrictions for ‘sexual safety’, including mandatory hijabs and gender segregation. Hossein grew up in this patriarchal environment and experienced sexual assault as a young boy. The societal taboos and traditional gender stereotypes made it incredibly challenging for Hossein to talk about his experiences. Now, with his wife Elahe’s support, he is facing his past.

Director, Can I Hug You?

Elahe is an award-winning filmmaker. Her films, The Doll (Critics Choice Nominee, IDA Nominee, Student Academy Awards, Best International Short Hot Docs 2021), and Can I Hug You? (Sheffield Doc/Fest 2023, SIMA Awards Best Short 2024) have played at over 50 festivals or competitions and reflect her prowess in storytelling and women’s rights advocacy. Elahe’s projects have been supported by IDA and One World Media, awarded on forums such as DOK Leipzig Short-n-Sweet, and broadcasted/streamed via platforms such as NPO, VPRO, DW, and VG.