Directed by Jafar Panahi with Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Shayesteh Irani, Ayda Sadeqi
2006, Iran The most recent feature by the internationally acclaimed director of The Circle ("One of the best works of cinema to come out of Iran in the past decade"—A.O. Scott), Offside is Panahi's more lighthearted illustration of the fight for women's rights in Iran. A group of young female soccer fans—prevented by law from mixing with men and thus attending the match—disguise themselves as boys in an attempt to sneak into Tehran's Azadi Stadium and watch their team battle Bahrain in a qualifying game for the World Cup. Before the match begins, the girls are arrested at the check point and put into a holding pen, where they can hear the roar of the crowd but cannot see the field. Left to cheer along, blindly, the women debate the logic of the law banning them from the stadium, winning the sympathy of the guards bound by duty to keep them captives. Offside's "rich, pointed comedy arises from the sense that all of them, men and women alike, are trapped in an absurd, insoluble predicament" (A.O. Scott).
Upon its release in 2006, Offside was banned from Iranian cinemas by the Iranian government, a harbinger of worse things to come. On December 20th Jafar Panahi and fellow Iranian filmmaker Mahmoud Rasoulof were convicted by the Iranian government for “assembly, collusion, and propagandizing against the regime.” They each received six year prison sentences; Panahi was also banned from making films, writing scripts, giving interviews and traveling abroad for the coming 20 years. The sentence is being appealed. In his plea to the court, Panahi stated: "My imprisonment and that of those I work with symbolizes the kidnapping by those in power of all artists in the country."
Offside is presented as part of the Boston Muslim Film Festival, in its sixth run and organized by the American Islamic Congress, a non-religious civil rights organization promoting tolerance and the exchange of ideas among Muslims and between other peoples. The only outlet in Boston showcasing films by Muslim artists and spotlighting Muslim issues, this year’s festival explores the diverse challenges young Muslims face across the globe through dynamic narrative and documentary film. Thanks to Andrea Dettore, Denia Hasic and Lauren Murphy, American Islamic Congress.
April 15 @ 7pm
Bright Family Screening Room
$10. $7.50 for Members. $5 for Students.
Persian with English subtitles