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Thierry van Werveke,
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On the last Wednesday before the spring solstice ushers in the Persian New Year, people set off fireworks following an ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Rouhi, spending her first day at a new job, finds herself in the midst of a different kind of fireworks -- a domestic dispute between her new boss and his wife.
"Offside" is about a group of Iranian girls who attempts to enter Tehran's Azadi Stadium dressed as boys in order to watch a big football match but some get caught and arrested. After the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran, women are not allowed to enter the stadiums. Written by
This film is being described as a comedy, but it wasn't a comedy at all. Like any Panahi film, it was a very realistic drama depicting the common thread of social inequity and hypocrisy. But it was very funny; much lighter than the director's dark and serious The Circle (my favourite Iranian film). The resourcefulness of the girls and the banter between them and the soldiers was both completely believable (as if it were a documentary) and completely hilarious.
The filming the actual match and aftermath was astonishing. It added a realism much like Australia's Kenny, of course a very different film.
The performances from all the non-professional actors soldiers and girls were very credible. It was very moving to see the passion, disappointment and excitement of these girls. Anyone in this country who thinks Muslim girls wearing a chador are any different to their own daughters should go see this film it will be a real eye-opener.
To me, the soldiers represented the current paradigm. They started out with stock-standard official policy responses to all the pleas of the girls. As the film progressed, they found it more and more difficult to maintain this stance. When what seems like all of Teheran breaks out into wild celebration, everyone is caught up in it, and the ridiculousness of the current policies is obvious to one and all.
It was a very moving and unexpected ending, and gave the film a really nice blend of emotions, frivolity, drama and social commentary. Though it's adult cinema, I think mature-minded children from about seven onwards would really appreciate this film (as long as they can read subtitles).
It is remarkable that a repressive country like Iran is able to produce films of such quality by the likes of Panahi and Kiarostami. Perhaps the constraints there force directors to be extremely resourceful. Australian (and other) film makers could take a leaf out of their book.
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