(Wed 21st / 2pm / £2)
(Jafar Panahi / 2006 / Iran / 88 minutes / cert PG)
with Sima Mobarek Shani, Safar Samandar, Shayesteh Irani
To support the filmmaker Jafar Panahi, who has been held in prison in Iran, without charge, for over a month now, a call has gone out for people to hold screenings of his films, around the world between 15-21 April.
The Cube will show its support for the campaign by taking part and we have slotted in a special screening of Offside, an Iranian feature film, by director Jafar Panahi.
Even if you run away from any mention of ‘the beautiful game’, you cannot fail to be charmed by Offside, a footie film where not a single shot of the match is shown (phew). Instead we see Iran’s World Cup 2006 qualifier against Bahrain from the perspective of a group of girls who attempt to smuggle themselves into the all-male stadium.
As stereotype-busters go, the sassiness of the Tehrani girls, matched with their knowledge and passion for the game is refreshing and often hilarious. Rounded up and penned in an enclosure frustratingly close to the action, they are watched over by young army guards on national service who would much rather be tending to cattle than putting up with a bunch of cheeky female fans.
Shot with a lightness and spontaneity that keeps the girls’ enthusiasm infectious, Offside is an offbeat feminist comedy that gently pushes forward its wider perspective in women’s rights.
Jafar Panahi is one of the most influential filmmakers in the Iranian New Wave movement and has received numerous awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Mr. Panahi, whose recent films have been banned in Iran, has openly expressed his support for the protests that followed last year’s disputed presidential election, encouraging fellow jurors at the Montreal Film Festival to wear the green scarf associated with the government opposition.
The New York Times suggest his arrest fits “a pattern of the intimidation of prominent artists who support the antigovernment movement”. His mentor, Palme d’Or winning filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, recently wrote an open letter calling for his release. Upon visiting him for the first time, eighteen days after his arrest his wife has expressed concern for her husband’s health because of the conditions in which he is being held, facing constant interrogation.
The New York Times reports on Jafar Panahi’s detention: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/02/film-director-pays-for-supporting-iran-protests/
Abbas Kiarostami’s open letter, calling for Jafar Panahi’s release: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/09/iranian-filmmaker-speaks-out-on-prisoners/