Elaha, a 22-year-old German-Kurdish woman, is about to get married. She is engaged to Nasim, the brother of her employer at a dry cleaner’s, and their wedding is due to take place in a few weeks’ time. When Elaha slips away to smoke with her friends at a party, the talk turns to the topic of how many young women in her community are expected to enter marriage as virgins. Some future in-laws even demand medical proof from a doctor. Elaha has already had sex and so this poses a problem: to have her hymen surgically reconstructed requires money which she does not have. Small capsules of fake blood can supposedly help to feign an intact maidenhead – but will it work? Elaha begins to question the rules: why does she have to be a virgin anyway, and for whom?
Performed with great commitment, Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg graduate Milena Aboyan’s film revolves around a topic that is as personal as it is universal: sexual self-determination. Based on a nuanced screenplay, Aboyan illuminates all facets and stays very close to her complex and completely authentic protagonist.
by Milena Aboyan
with Bayan Layla, Armin Wahedi, Derya Dilber, Derya Durmaz, Cansu Leyan, Beritan Balci, Slavko Popadić, Nazmi Kırık, Réber Ibrahim, Homa Faghiri, Hadnet Tesfai
Germany 2023 German, Kurdish 110’ Colour


  • Bayan Layla (Elaha)
  • Armin Wahedi (Nasim)
  • Derya Dilber (Shilan)
  • Derya Durmaz (Mother)
  • Cansu Leyan (Berivan)
  • Beritan Balci (Dilan)
  • Slavko Popadić (Jusuf)
  • Nazmi Kırık (Father)
  • Réber Ibrahim (Sami)
  • Homa Faghiri (Nihal)
  • Hadnet Tesfai (Stella Zahaye)


Director Milena Aboyan
Screenplay Milena Aboyan, Constantin Hatz
Cinematography Christopher Behrmann
Editing Elias Ben Engelhardt
Sound Perschya Chehrazi
Music Kilian Oser
Sound Design Perschya Chehrazi
Production Design Nora Balmer, Christina Mammes
Costumes Paulina Immig, Lara Scherpinski
Make-Up Milena Lazić, Faye Ryan
Assistant Director Sara Del Barba
Production Manager Maximilian Becht
Producer Matthias Greving
Creative Producers Janina Sara Hennemann, Emina Smajić
Executive Producer Kirsten Lukaczik
Co-Producer Igor Dovgal
Co-Production Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg Ludwigsburg
Essence Film

Milena Aboyan

A Yazidi Kurd born in Armenia, she began studying acting in Germany in 2010 and was involved in several theatre productions. After receiving her acting degree, she changed her focus to writing and worked as an assistant dramaturge on an early-evening series on the German ARD TV channel. In 2015, she took up a degree in screenwriting at the Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg. Elaha is her debut feature film as a director.


2016 Die Vertreibung der Elefanten; short film 2017 Sonne scheint über August; short film · Was bleibt; short film 2018 Der Greteltrick; short film 2023 Elaha

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2023