A confronting documentary by Atiye Zare Arandi (formerly known as 'Friday at the Window')

Esfahan, Iran. Melina lives with her grandparents. Since her parents' divorce neither of them is willing to take on her legal custody. Melina is longing for a home and a family of her own, unhappy with her situation because she feels different from other kids. Actually, Melina wants to live with her mother, but this is not possible because both her father and new stepfather are against it. Melina's mother lives in permanent struggle between a proper relationship with her child and the relationship with her new spouse. 

Celebrating her 9th birthday, Melina is finally old enough to bring her custody case to court. With the law on her side, she hopes to eventually choose her own custodian. Unfortunately Melina is not aware of how the adult world is organized and how reality will probably play out differently.

‘Grand me’ proves that young voices matter and strive to be heard. Through trust, warmth and an insider’s privilege we not only learn about a young girl being emotionally torn apart by her parents’ divorce, but also the impact their choices have on a whole family. - Maëlle Guénégues, Cat&Docs in Variety

With great patience, respect and attentiveness, the filmmaker has made a very personal and relatable story of a universal phenomenon: the child who, between two bickering parents, has to fend for themself. - Nicole Santé, Business Doc Europe

About the director

Atiye Zare Arandi is an excellent storyteller, raised and educated with the heritage of the great traditional Persian art of telling stories and fables. She studied film directing with a focus on fictional narrative and continued to excel in her studies of dramatic literature. Currently she lives and works both in Esfahan and Tehran. Following her studies, Atiye has gained experience and recognition as writer/director for national Iranian fiction as well as documentary work. Her work has been represented several times at the International Cinema Verité Festival (Tehran). Filmmaker Atiye will collaborate during the edit/post-production in Belgium with some highly established professionals to finish her international debut.

Director's motivation

“My focus is on Melina and the emotional process she is going through. This process is intrinsically linked to people’s specific cultural and social background. I feel I need to bring Melina’s story, not only because she is so close to me, but also because it’s recognizable for so many people around the world. 

I am happy and relieved that Melina is growing up in a middle-class family. She is well fed, has a nice bed to sleep in and is supported and loved by her kind grandparents. She is not confronted with instantaneous life-threatening dangers, but it can’t be denied that her mental wellbeing is pushed and stretched to an extent that is far too much for a child. When she returns from an occasional stay with her father, traces of physical abuse can be noticed. She won’t talk directly about it, but Melina's pain vibrates without words on the screen. When we talk of child neglect and physical harm, middle class environments seem hardly touched, because it happens very unnoticed behind closed doors. I’m ‘privileged’ to explore such a case evolving right in front of my eyes, without obstacles or veils in between. My family has accepted me as a critical observer.”


“The film we chose to award skilfully materialises the in-between and uncertain space of an ongoing custody battle in which the nine year old Melina is caught between her parents and the consequent disillusioning confrontation with the real, as well as the chasm between the separate realities of Melina, her mother, and her grandparents. The film finds its merit in this intersection, drawing attention to questions of motherhood, transformation, and the notion of belonging, indirectly interrogating the unequal position and rights of women in contemporary Iranian society. The film is ultimately a testament to the resilience of Melina and her grandparents, but also to the inherent imperfection and shortcomings of what it is to be human. The winner is: ‘Grand Me’”

14 titles competed for the NEXT:WAVE Award dedicated to emerging international artists and filmmakers. The selection was judged by Sofie Cato Maas (Film critic and editor / co-founder of Outskirts), Wim Vanecker (Programmer & Advisor, Festival de Cannes) as well as Christian Einshøj (director and former Next:Wave Award nominee). The NEXT:WAVE award comes with a cash prize of €5,000 provided by the festival.



Directed by Atiye Zare Arandi
Storytelling by Atiye Zare Arandi & Bram Crols
Editing - Katarina Turler
Grading - Raf Claes
Sound design - Raf Enckels
Original music - Naima Joris


Awards & festivals

World premiere at CPH:Dox. WINNER NEXT:WAVE AWARD.

Dutch premiere at the Human Rights festival Movies That Matter


Pitched at AJB DOC Film Festival - Work in Progress Award

Pitched at Visions du Réel - Work in Progress Lightdox Award

Pitched at DMZ Docs - Best Award

Impact pitch at Movies That Matter - EsoDoc Award



Production details

Duration: 80'
In coproduction with Atam film (Iran), VRT (BE) & Al Jazeera Documentary Channel (Quatar)

Supported by Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), DGD (Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid), DEFC (Documentary & Experimental Film Center) & DMZ Docs Industry & Tax Shelter measure  of the Belgian Federal Government through Flanders Tax Shelter

Language: Farsi
Subtitles: English, Dutch