Posted at 5:38 PM on May 11, 2007
by Euan Kerr
Offside: Even though it's set at a Soccer World Cup qualifying match, "Offside" is not a soccer movie. It's a bittersweet story of Iranian women who are prohibited from attending the 2006 game between Iran and Bahrain simply because of their gender.
The game was a huge event for Iranians because victory for the home team meant a spot in the finals.
However Iranian government ruled women should not be allowed to see soccer because it was indecent for them to watch men playing the game.
The film starts as a nervous comedy as the women try various disguises to try to slip into the stadium in Tehran. One by one they are caught and escorted to a pen against the wall of the upper deck. The women can hear the game, and they plead with the soldiers assigned to watch them, saying if they won't release them to at least describe the action.
As they argue with the guards the women demolish all the arguements. The guards act with a mixture of amusement, sympathy and ultimately anger as they find themselves unable to give a reasonable response.
The film rides a wave of emotion, and is heartbreaking when the woemens bravado begins to crumble, and they realise they are in serious trouble.
Director Jafar Panahi's film dribbles as deftly as Ronaldinho, and shoots like a cannon.
The Wind that Shakes the Barley : If you missed it first time round, the Oak Street has brought back the Ken Loach meditation on power and revolution. It's worth a look.