International women's day
It’s International Women’s Day today, and i’d like to draw attention to the plight of an interned man.
Jafar Panahi is an Iranian film director who has continued to make cinema shot in Iran that relates directly to the lives of her citizens, without being preachy, and just about staying on the right side of the authorities – until now – for the last week he has been interned in Tehran, having been arrested for shooting footage of the Iranian “green” protests, as part of a documentary he was making.
Panahi has been responsible for some of the most feminist film work of the last decade, with 2 contrasting films that tell us of the plight of women striving for equality in Iran without in any way belittling or victimising them. Indeed one of my favourite films of the last few years has been Jafar Panahi’s uplifting film Offside.
Like the more wrenching earlier work The Circle, Offside is about women’s lives in Iran, but in this outing there is a lot of humour.
The film concerns various young women trying without success to get into the Tehran stadium to see their National team qualify for the World Cup.
Iranian women aren’t allowed to watch football at stadia, but, far from seeming miserable and downtrodden, they are presented as articulate young women trying to take control of their lives. The men aren’t thinly drawn archetypes in Offside either – in fact Iran’s male youth come off well, whether in the guise of football fans or conscripted soldiers.
The arguements are made without once feeling you’ve fallen into a political rally, which gives them more punch.
The script is intellegently written, and performed well by non-professional actors.
It’s a hugely enjoyable film, as much about sports fandom as about the position of women in Iran, but most of all it’s joyous, and I challenge anybody not to come away from a viewing smiling.
Panahi’s great talent here is to present a story about women not being allowed to do something , as uplifting and positive, because you believe these young women have the strength and resilience to change their destinies and challenge a system that oppresses them – indeed 5 years after this film was made it is women like this that are on the streets of Tehran leading the “green” movement for change – you can see why a frightened regime wants the film-maker locked up.
Jahfar Panahi – my feminist of the day on International Women’s Day
[Artificial Eye have the film on DVD, including some text notes from the director, you can pick it up at online DVD sites for around £6]