Afshin Ghaffarian risks everything to start a dance company amidst his home country of Iran's politically volatile climate and the nation's ban on dancing.


Richard Raymond


Jon Croker (screenplay), Afshin Ghaffarian (based on the life story of)
2 nominations. See more awards »





Credited cast:
Nazanin Boniadi ... Parisa Ghaffarian
Freida Pinto ... Elaheh
Marama Corlett ... Mona
Tom Cullen ... Ardavan
Simon Kassianides ... Sattar
Neet Mohan ... Javadi, Naser
Reece Ritchie ... Afshin Ghaffarian
Bamshad Abedi-Amin Bamshad Abedi-Amin ... Mehran
Davood Ghadami Davood Ghadami ... Basij Leader
Akin Gazi ... Farid Ghaffarian
Tolga Safer ... Stephano
Makram Khoury ... Mehdi
Mourad Zaoui ... The student
Richard David-Caine ... Teymour / Trinculo
Alex Klaus ... Minder 1 (as Alex Claus)


A film based on an incredible true story. Desert Dancer is a classic hero story about brave young people risking their lives to rebel against their government and fight for their dreams. Set in Iran, where it is currently forbidden to dance, the story follows Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends who despite the dangers form an underground dance company where, via hacking into YouTube, they learn from the very best - Michael Jackson, Pina Bausch, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Reveling in the freedom of expression that dance gives them, they set upon putting on a performance deep in the desert, away from the watchful eyes of the military police. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Freedom Takes Courage. See more »


Biography | Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug material and violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


There is a misspelled word in the big banner the protesters carry in front of them See more »


References Dirty Dancing (1987) See more »


(Steve Mackey (as Mackey), M.I.A. (as Arulpragasam), Justine Frischmann (as Frischmann))
Performed by M.I.A.
See more »

User Reviews

Loved It! Very Touching Movie
26 April 2015 | by rgspeedstrSee all my reviews

This was a very well made film! After watching the movie, I learned a lot about Iran and their views on dancing.

Pretty intense!

The boy who played the role of Afshin Ghaffarian, the dancer, did an amazing job. Frieda Pinto also played a role in this movie, and was interesting to learn about her character. Everyone had their specific role in the movie, telling the story of what really happens there.

Its a very wild thought to think about what it would be like to live away from home, and the type of lifestyle some people see in the middle east, where this takes place.

If you like interesting stories that are true, you will love this movie!

Hands down one of the more interesting movies i have ever seen.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
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Official Sites:

Official site



Release Date:

22 April 2016 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Until I Rise See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$40,763, 12 April 2015

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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