Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Indie & Art House, Comedy, Sports
Who is that strange boy sitting quietly in the corner of a bus full of screaming fans going to the football match? In fact, this shy boy is a girl in disguise. She is not alone; women also love football in Iran. Before ... more »
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Reviewed on 6/13/2010...
A fascinating look at Iranian culture and society, well worth the viewing time - would recommend to anyone not looking for mindless mainstream entertainment
A triumph of movie naturalism
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
In Iran, women are not permitted to attend men's sporting events, apparently to "protect" them from all the cursing and foul language they might hear emanating from the male fans (so since men can`t restrain or behave themselves, women are forced to suffer. Go figure.). "Offside" tells the tale of a half dozen or so young women who, dressed like men, attempt to sneak into the high-stakes match between Iran and Bahrain that, in 2005, qualified Iran to go to the World Cup (the movie was actually filmed in large part during that game).
"Offside" is a slice-of-life comedy that will remind you of all those great humanistic films ("The Shop on Main Street," "Loves of a Blonde," "Closely Watched Trains" etc.) that flowed out of Communist Czechoslovakia as part of the "Prague Miracle" in the mid 1960's. As with many of those works, "Offside" is more concerned with observing life than with devising any kind of elaborately contrived fictional narrative. Indeed, it is the simplicity of the setup and the naturalism of the style that make the movie so effective.
Once their ruse is discovered, the girls are corralled into a small pen right outside the stadium where they can hear the raucous cheering emanating from the game inside. Stuck where they are, all they can do is plead with the security guards to let them go in, guards who are basically bumbling, good-natured lads who are compelled to do their duty as a part of their compulsory military service. Even most of the men going into the stadium don't seem particularly perturbed at the thought of these women being allowed in. Still the prohibition persists. Yet, how can one not be impressed by the very real courage and spunk displayed by these women as they go up against a system that continues to enforce such a ridiculously regressive and archaic restriction? And, yet, the purpose of these women is not to rally behind a cause or to make a "point." They are simply obsessed fans with a burning desire to watch a soccer game and, like all the men in the country, cheer on their team.
It's hard to tell just how much of the dialogue is scripted and how much of it is extemporaneous, but, in either case, the actors, with their marvelously expressive faces, do a magnificent job making each moment seem utterly real and convincing. Mohammad Kheir-abadi and Shayesteh Irani are notable standouts in a uniformly excellent cast. The structure of the film is also very loose and freeform, as writer/director Jafar Panahi and co-writer Shadmehr Rastin focus for a few brief moments on one or two of the characters, then move smoothly and effortlessly onto others. With this documentary-type approach, we come to feel as if we are witnessing an actual event unfolding in "real time." Very often, it's quite easy for us to forget we're actually watching a movie.
It was a very smart move on the part of the filmmakers to include so much good-natured humor in the film (it's what the Czech filmmakers did as well), the better to point up the utter absurdity of the situation and broaden the appeal of the film for audiences both domestic and foreign. "Offside" is obviously a cry for justice, but it is one that is made all the more effective by its refusal to make of its story a heavy-breathing tragedy. Instead, it realizes that nothing breaks down social barriers quite as efficiently as humor and an appeal to the audience's common humanity. And isn't that what true art is supposed to be all about?
In its own quiet, understated way, "Offside" is one of the great, under-appreciated gems of 2007."
Great Film about Sexism and Soccer in Iran
Jason D. Moss | Eugene, OR | 09/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film should not only have been released in Iran, but also should be seen the world over. I watched it with a friend of mine who was born in Iran and had told me all Iranian films were dark and depressing; to our delight, this one was colorful and funny. It consists in a series of exchanges between girls passionate about soccer - but banned from seeing their home team play the game that will ultimately take them to the World Cup - and their captors, miltary policemen who share the girls' football-fever but must keep them held like cattle in a pen. The premise, of course, is a metaphor for the plight of women in Iran. But rather than take a didactic or overtly political stance, the director brings out the comedy in the situation. As the scenes unfold we see these dim-witted soldiers overrun by the young girls' determination, leaving us with a sense that these ancient Iranian rules are an emotional burden on modern Iranians, who in this case just want to band together and celebrate. The film also suggests, bravely, that perhaps the love of sport is somehow more important than devotion to ancient cultural tradition. While we in America have the luxury of bemoaning our culture's preoccupation with things like basketball and football, this film challenges us to consider that there might be something more meaningful in the ways we as people come together under the banner of our favorite teams. And that maybe that something has everything to do with fundamental human liberty.
But perhaps best of all, this film ends perfectly. The final scene is simple, powerful, and uplifting. I give it 5 out of 5."
The Absurdity of Censorship Seen through Iranian Soccer Fans
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 09/15/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director Jafar Panahi was inspired to write "Offside" by his own daughter's ability to slip in to a stadium to watch a soccer match with her father in Iran, where women and girls are not allowed to attend men's sports events. "Offside" focuses on a group of young women who disguise themselves as men to attend Iran's 2005 World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain in Tehran. Panahi was already on the outs with Iran's Ministry of Guidance, so he submitted a false script and director to the authorities and filmed on location with non-professional actors, including the day of the real match. Unfortunately, "Offside" was not able to get a release in Iran, but it did extremely well on black market DVD.
The excitement in Tehran is palpable as a legion of soccer fans anticipate the big match that may send Iran to the World Cup. Buses bring thousands of fans to Tehran's Azadi stadium, among them some dedicated female fans who disguise themselves as men to get in. One young woman, a first-timer with an unconvincing disguise, is caught by the military police and taken to a holding area with other busted women. The women beg and badger their guards to report on the game, heatedly debate soccer strategy, stage the occasional escape, and argue the laws that have put them there with their chief guard, a put-upon but protective man who would rather be back on his farm.
"Offside" unfolds nearly in real time for the 90-minute duration of the game. I was struck by the simplicity of the plot. Half a dozen young women wait, argue, and try to catch glimpses of the game. Nothing happens. "Offside" elaborates on very simple scenes, elucidating the characters of the women and their guards, all of whom are sympathetic and suffering from an absurd situation. The non-professional actors display varying degrees of comfort with the camera, but some convey an admirable authenticity. The film is not preachy, certainly not without humor, but criticizes the social restrictions in Iran through the brief experiences of a group of soccer fans. In Farsi with optional subtitles.
The DVD (Sony 2007): The only bonus feature is an "Interview with Director Jafar Panahi" (36 min). Panahi talks about his inspiration for the film, using soccer as a way to examine restrictions in Iran, difficulties getting the film made and distributed, working with non-professional actors, his choices of camera and time frame, and his optimism that film can effect change in Iran. The film and interview are in Farsi with English or French subtitles."