Director: Mohsen Abdolvahab



After her daughter is diagnosed with cancer, Saideh Ghods establishes MAHAK, Iran’s most respected charity for treating children afflicted by the disease.



The life of Saideh Ghods changed completely when her two-year-old daughter Kiana was diagnosed with cancer. As she confronted her daughter’s suffering, she became aware of the suffering of so many impoverished families in hospital corridors around the country who were dealing with children afflicted by cancer. When, due to the doctors’ timely diagnosis, Kiana was on the path to a full recovery, Saideh Ghods resolved to prevent the unnecessary deaths of children with cancer caused by lack of access to therapeutic facilities or insufficient financial resources.

Ghods founded MAHAK over 25 years ago. It quickly gained fame and support throughout Iran. Today it is one of the most highly functioning and trusted charities in the country. Countless children have been helped and saved.  A few years after founding MAHAK, Ghods, along with a group of Iranian philanthropists, established a fully equipped hospital in Tehran that specializes in treating children with cancer.






  • ۲nd Health Film Festival, Tehran, Iran, August 17-23, 2017


  • Iran Newspaper, Tehran, July 1, 2017
  • ۱۰th International Documentary Film Festival , Cinema Verite, (Special Section of KARESTAN) Tehran, Iran, December, 4 -11, 2016



Original Title: Bonyan-gozare MAHAK

۵۷ min., English Subtitle, HD, Color, Iran, 2017

Original Languages: Persian

Aspect Ratio: 16:9 or 1:1.85

Sound Format: Stereo

Exhibition Format: DCP / Blu-Ray / DVD / H.264 File




Born in Tehran, 1957

Mohsen Abdolvahab started his cinematic activities in 1980 by editing documentary and fictional films. In addition to writing and directing two feature films Please Don’t Bother and To Be Born, he is also one of the best-known Iranian documentary filmmakers in Iran. He has researched and/or directed more than 20 documentary films including Jobseekers in Two Shots, Lakh Mazar, and Haji Abbas’ Wives. He also has co-directed two feature films with director Rakhshan Banietemad: Gilaneh and Khoon Bazi.

Selected awards:

  • ‘Silver Wolf’ Award from the Documentary Film Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA) for Haji Abbas’ Wives, 2001.
  • The Honorary Diploma for the Best Documentary from the Yadegar Film Festival for Lakh Mazar, 2002.
  • The Special Award of the International Religion Today Film Festival, Italy, for Lakh Mazar, 2000.
  • The Jury’s Special Award of the Kish Documentary Film Festival for Jobseekers in Two Shots, 2001.
  • The award for the best research text and script from the Roshd film Festival for Lakh Mazar, 2000.



I was already aware of MAHAK through Saideh Ghods’ husband Nader Sharifi, an acquaintance of mine.  Several years earlier, I had made a short documentary film on MAHAK along with Rakhshan Banietemad, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb and Amir Esbati. This experience led to my being asked to make a documentary on Saideh Ghods.

The film was shot during several sessions over the course of one year in between her trips abroad. I was simultaneously working on Tabarestaners, another documentary in this Karestan series. It was immediately clear to me from the first days of filming that MAHAK was Saideh Ghods’ main priority. Whenever the filming made it inconvenient for her to attend to her normal duties, she asked us to delay shooting. On the days she works at MAHAK, she always has a long to-do list. She devotes all of her energy to completing her tasks right up until the last available minute, and then hurries home to tend to her own domestic affairs, including taking care of her mother who lives with her family. Even though we had our camera set up at the MAHAK offices, it was difficult to coordinate interviews or even just to follow her during her busy rounds.  

Editing the film also took a very long time, but Ahmad Vafaei was extremely patient and finalized the project beautifully.

I’m always left feeling optimistic after working at MAHAK. I’m glad this film offered me another opportunity to spend some time there and experience the positivity of everyone who works there.



Saideh Ghods, founder and member of the foundation board of MAHAK Society to Support Children with Cancer

Birthdate: 1951

Birthplace: Tehran

Saideh Ghods had many dreams for her future, but fate had something special in store for her. Her daughter’s suffering opened her eyes to the suffering of other children with cancer in hospitals in Iran and abroad. As they sought treatment for Kiana, Saideh and her family confronted many obstacles. Kiana’s plight was exacerbated by the high expense of hard-to-find imported drugs, a lack of resources, unreliable information on cancer, the side effects of the drugs, and many other difficulties.

Saideh’s world was upended by the constant shuttling between home and the hospital. During Kiana’s treatment, Saideh became acutely aware of the suffering endured by children with cancer and the added toll it took on their families. Many were not allowed to visit their children due to space limitations at the hospitals. Many could not afford the treatment their child required which led to tragic results. Saideh’s family had a good relationship with Kiana’s doctors. Kiana received all the medical attention that was available and her cancer went into remission. Although Kiana recovered, many other children who had been hospitalized with her were not so lucky.  Saideh became motivated to take whatever steps were necessary to ensure that every child diagnosed with cancer received the same level of medical care that Kiana had received at equally equipped facilities. Saideh remains steadfastly committed to this cause.

In 1989, the MAHAK society was established by Saideh Ghods and a group of philanthropists to offer a full range of support to children with cancer and their families. Eighteen years later the Darabad Complex opened its doors. Having treated over 24,000 children, it is the leading cancer center and hospital specializing in children in the Middle East.



Director Mohsen Abdolvahab / Editor Ahmad Vafaei / Camera Mohammad Reza Jahanpanah, Reza Teimouri, Mohsen Abdolvahab / Composer Reza Mortazavi / Sound Designer Amir Hosein Ghassemi / Sound Recordists Rashid Danesh, Mahan Jafarzadeh, Vahid Razavian, Ahmad Reza Taee, Meysam Hasanloo / Unit Production Manager Abed Nicpoo / Color Grading Hamidreza Fatourehchian, Sindokht Rahimian / Still Photographers Abbas Kowsari, Peyman Hooshmandzaseh / Graphic Designer Hamed Jaberha / Project Advisors Mahmoud Nazzari, Hossein Akbari / Research Management Team (EDF) Firouzeh Saber, Zahra Emrani / Researchers Mohsen Abdolvahab, Z. Emrani

With presence by: Saideh Ghods and Nader Sharifi, Kiana Sharifi

Production Sponsors: Mark Amin, Aliasghar Hajibaba, Tabarestan Steel Foundry, Iran vice Presidency of Women and Family Affairs, Mahmoud Nazzari, Dozhpad, Shila Fastfood

Distribution Sponsor: Saman Bank

Artistic Consultant: Rakhshan Banietemad

Producer: Mojtaba Mirtahmasb

A Product of KARA Film Studio