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
Not much I can say that hasn't been said before, but I wanted to say it anyway.
While reading the various interviews with Jafar Panahi concerning his latest film "The Circle", I noticed that he always stresses the fact that his film is not a feminist film, but a humanist film. I'm reminded of the times I've been in a political conversation with someone and they've said "I'm no feminist but..." and then said something in defense of women's rights. Well, whether he intended it or not, Panahi has made a feminist film, because after all, feminism in its most basic form has nothing to do with hating men, but is merely a desire for the fair and equal treatment of women, and equal human rights is of course a cornerstone of humanism. I'm no scholar (and that I can say in all honesty) but yes, I would say I'm a feminist. I've never been on a march, and I've never read the works of any great feminist theorists, but to the core of my soul I believe in the equal and fair treatment of women, and if that doesn't make me a feminist I don't know what does.
Of course, all this discussion about feminism wouldn't matter if "The Circle" wasn't such a strong film. Panahi's film, almost universally praised, will receive no negative criticism here either. His use of narrative (most reviews compare the narrative style to "La Ronde" , but I suppose comparisons could be made with "The Phantom of Liberty"  and "Slacker" , for that matter) might be perceived by some rob the characters of their individuality, but of course that is part of the point. In Iran today women are all grouped together, Panahi is saying, and they are seen as no more that a collective problem for men to deal with. Ultimately, there is nothing I can say about this film that hasn't been said before, but I wanted a chance to express my appreciation for this extraordinary myself.
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