Shabana’s Choice

Orig. title: Shabanas valg
Genre: Single documentary
Duration: 58 min
Screening format: Digi Beta
Release: April 2010, NRK
Int. tv-screenings: SVT, VPRO
Director and Photographer: Martin Rehman Gaarder
Producer: Hilde Skofteland

Shabana is an uncompromising immigrant and freedom activist, who does shocking political stunts. After receiving threats, she decides to flee to New York alone. But then one day she meets Martin and falls in love. Drawn between freedom and security, ambition and love, her inner demons surfaces; A youth filled with violence and abuse. This is the intimate story of an unconventional woman and an unconventional relationship, told through the eyes of her husband.

In a small country on the edge of Europe, an immigrant girl rises to become a highly rebellious woman. Her shocking political stunts, sexy stand up performances and satirical columns catapults her to fame as a champion of liberal Muslim women aspiring to the Scandinavian lifestyle of gender equality and freedom of expression.

But the publicity comes with a prize. She receives life threats. She flees to New York in order to be left alone, and starts to work at the renowned American Comedy Institute. She sets an ambitious goal: to have her one woman stand-up show, “Allah Bless America”, on Broadway.

But on a visit back home in Norway, she meets Martin. They fall in love. Passionately. This changes everything. Shabana’s protective isolation is broken. Martin has two sons from a previous marriage and they all live in Oslo. Without a clue how they will resolve their life together or where to settle, Martin and Shabana marry.

The relationship goes against Shabana’s newly acquired freedom and ambitions in NY. She persuades Martin to join her. But something happens. Shabana’s external travel to New York has jumpstarted an internal one. Since her teenage years she has worn steel armour. But a long hidden, painful story of her youth begins to surface.

Shabana’s Choice is the tale of a woman who wants to change the world, or more accurately, to change people. On the way, she somehow discovers herself, vulnerable and tough, living on the barricades of our multicultural society. And living in a highly modern relationship.

This is a story of freedom and migration, a portrait of a woman and a relationship, intimately told through the eyes of the husband.

”Naked and moving. Intensely personal.

One of the best Norwegian documentaries for years.”


Contact at Skofteland Film:
Executive Producer Hilde Skofteland
e mail: hilde at
Sales manager Ingunn H. Knudsen e mail: ingunn.knudsen at


Shabana’s Choise is financed by:
The Norwegian Film Institute
Fond for lyd og bilde
Østnorsk Filmsenter

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Skoftelandfilm Film AS

produces documentaries and documentary series


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