Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Sometimes I take my freedom for granted. My freedom to act like a woman, do the things I want to do, see the things I want to see, be the person I want to be. The reality is that there are women and girls out there who don’t have that freedom. Watching ‘Offside’ today reminded me of that.

‘Offside’ is the story of six Iranian girls who try to sneak into the qualifying match for the 2006 Soccer World Cup between Iran and Bahrain. In Iran, for those of you who are not aware, it is banned for women to attend men’s sporting events. With loose shirts and caps covering their heads, their attempted camouflage of their female selves does not work, and they are all caught and put into a small barred area outside the stadium, pending their transportation to higher authorities. I wouldn’t call the movie startlingly brilliant or any of the other glowing compliments that movies of this genre often do receive (and this one has, in fact, received a postive review from the New York Times as well). I’ll be completely honest: it was funny in parts and did not shock the sensibilities of the viewer, nor did it attempt to draw the viewer in with an overdose of emotion. ‘Offside’ has been made like a documentary, indeed it IS one – the actors are all first-timers, unpolished and therefore largely realistic, and it was shot for a large part during the actual qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain in 2005.

Surprisingly, this is one movie I was completely neutral about. But I thought the premise that the director based the movie on was good – lots of people today are probably not aware of seemingly simple issues like these being, well, issues, in countries like Iran, because they have never needed to fight for their rights to watch a live match in this day and age. Jafar Panahi’s movies are in fact banned in Iran because he shows the country for what it is – one of his earlier movies, ‘The Circle’, followed a group of women around Tehran as they tried to evade injustice.

Something I thought was interesting, though, was that there was a young girl, no more than 13 or 14 years old, watching the movie with her parents. The movie is rated PG-13, and at that age, I thought it was noteworthy that her parents were bringing her to a movie about girls in a part of the world that is so removed from where she is. She’ll probably grow up to be a sensitive adult, and we need more of those in this world.

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