Iranian actresses of TIFF movie Ava denied entry to Canada

The Toronto International Film festival says the talent of two Iranian actresses denied entry to Canada is shining nonetheless as their film screens for audiences this weekend.

TIFF provided visa support letters saying it wanted to host the teens in Toronto

Actress Mahour Jabbari appears in a scene from Sadaf Foroughi's new film Ava. Jabbari and another co-star, Shayesteh Sajadi, were denied entry into Canada to attend the Toronto International Film Festival. (Courtesy of TIFF)

The Toronto International Film festival says the talent of two Iranian actresses denied entry to Canada is shining nonetheless as their film screens for audiences this weekend.

Tehran-born, Montreal-based director Sadaf Foroughi says the Canadian embassy in Turkey prevented the teens from attending Friday's TIFF premiere of Ava.

But Foroughi says "the girls and I are looking forward to our future screenings and lots of other good things which I'm sure will come" for the film, a Canadian co-production with Iran and Qatar.

The film's publicist notes that Mahour Jabbari, 17, and Shayesteh Sajadi, 18, received near-identical letters doubting their stated purpose of visiting Canada.

Sajadi's letter specifically questions whether she has "sufficient funds, including income or assets" to support herself in Canada and ensure she returns to Iran.

The festival says it wanted to host the teens in Toronto and provided visa support letters to that effect.

Jabbari stars as the titular Ava, a 16-year-old upper-class girl who chafes against family and societal restrictions in Tehran. Sajadi plays Ava's friend, Melody.