The Circle (2000)
"Dayereh" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama  |  8 September 2000 (Italy)
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 4,325 users   Metascore: 85/100
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Various women struggle to function in the oppressively sexist society of contemporary Iran.



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Complete credited cast:
Nargess Mamizadeh ...
Maryiam Palvin Almani ...
Arezou (as Maryam Parvin Almani)
Mojgan Faramarzi ...
Mojgan - Prostitute
Elham Saboktakin ...
Elham - Nurse
Monir Arab ...
Monir - Ticket Seller
Maedeh Tahmasebi ...
Maedeh (as Maedeh Tahmasbi)
Maryam Shayegan ...
Khadijeh Moradi
Negar Ghadyani
Solmaz Panahi ...
Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy ...
Pari (as Fereshteh Sadr Orafai)
Fatemeh Naghavi ...
Ataollah Moghadas ...
Abbas Alizadeh ...
Father of Pari


In a hospital waiting room a woman learns her daughter, Solmaz Gholami, has just given birth. The ultrasound test had prepared the family for a boy. The baby, it turns out, is a girl. The joy the mother anticipated turns to terror for she knows her son-in-law's family will abandon her daughter. The old woman flees as the in-laws arrive. On the crowded streets of Tehran - a place where women are not permitted to stay out on their own or smoke in public - two women are also on the run. Arezou and Nargess have just been granted temporary leave from prison but they have no plans to return. They manage to scrounge together enough money for the bus trip to Nargess' hometown, but she lacks proper identification, and the police are searching everyone at the station. Meanwhile, their friend Pari has just escaped from prison in order to have an abortion. Threatened with death by her brothers, she flees from her father's house and meets with a former inmate, Elham, who is now married to a doctor... Written by Anonymous

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Release Date:

8 September 2000 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

El círculo  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$10,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$22,360 (USA) (13 April 2001)


$673,780 (USA) (22 March 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

Great artistry and even greater power
2 September 2001 | by (Rochester, New York) – See all my reviews

The "circle" in Jafar Panahi's great film is many things: the

structure of the film itself, which ends with the same image it

begins with; a location in Teheran, where a character meets a

friend in a movie theater; the circular stairs so many other

characters run up and down; the circling, hovering camera

movements that bring us face to face with the women in these

interlinked stories and the world they are caught in. Most of all,

perhaps, it is the constricting circle within which Iranian women

must live their lives, the tightly circumscribed rules and

expectations of a rigidly masculine universe. None of Panahi's

characters can escape this circle, though some try and one, at

least, believes that she can. The more experienced know the truth;

all they can do in running is map out the circumference of their

shrunken world.

It's easy to see The Circle as a film about the oppression of

women in Iran, but that would reduce it to the merely political--and

we should not forget that the film was made by an Iranian man,

and that three quarters of the Iranian electorate recently voted to

reelect President Khatami, a deeply intelligent voice for freedom

and dialogue who has had his own difficulties being heard.

Panahi's subject is far larger; a woman who grew up in an abusive

household told me that no other film had so accurately depicted

the experience of her youth, when the constraints on women's

lives were so much taken for granted that she was unaware there

was anything outside them. But those constraints are fatal. We

make our world together, through dialogue and interaction. To

deprive someone of voice and the chance to participate in that

process is to kill them, whether it is done through religious and

social sanctions or by a husband beating his wife. Panahi's

women are neither dead nor silent, even though their only

listeners are other women. Their tragedy finds echoes everywhere;

but in this film where theme and expression are so intimately

joined we, at least, can hear them.

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