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Time Out says
Tue Jun 6 2006Having (inevitably) had ‘The Circle’ and ‘Crimson Gold’ banned in Iran, Jafar Panahi again displays disdain for his censors with a righteously provocative critique of the Islamic Republic’s oppressive treatment of women. Prepared in advance and shot in a semi-documentary style on the day of the Iranian football team’s 2005 World Cup qualifying tie against Bahrain, it begins with a young girl on a bus travelling to the match in the company of likewise excited male fans – the crucial difference being that, unlike them, she isn’t legally allowed to attend. Like other females – some of whom resort to drag in their determination to see the game – she must first persuade a tout to sell her a ticket, then avoid the body-search guards encircling the stadium, and then hope she won’t be betrayed by the male spectators…
That’s if she gets in. Most of the film takes place in a compound guarded by soldiers just outside the stadium, where women whose gender has been discovered await removal for official sentencing. As the feisty Tehrani females protest the injustice of their situation with markedly less sophisticated provincial soldiers, Panahi underlines the absurdity of the regime’s double standards with scenes that are sometimes comic – a girl is escorted to the men’s loos which, of course, must be evacuated first – sometimes shaded by tragedy. The film isn’t as consistently funny as it might be, and the peculiar cirumstances of its making means that its narrative sometimes feels fairly wayward, but there’s no denying its rough, rousing power or its relevance as an illuminating social document. One thing’s for sure: football fanatics behave pretty much the same everywhere.
Author: Geoff Andrew
Fri Jun 9 2006