Sunday, August 26, 2007

Offside (La Tourneuse de pages) DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Oppression of Women in Iran Depicted in Female Empowerment Docu-Drama

In recent years, the best movies emanating out of the Middle East have been those exploring the subjugation of women under Islam. Often risking severe reprisals, assorted intrepid filmmakers have summoned the courage to relate a variety of tales, each invariably demanding that the world take note of females’ desperate plight.
The latest, Offside, was somehow shot in Iran, which might be the last country any member of the opposite sex would want to have to live in. This intimate story unfolds against the backdrop of Azadi Stadium in Teheran, which is where the country’s soccer team is participating in a World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain.
Written and directed by Jafar Panahi, this poignant picture was inspired by his daughter who had tried to gain entrance to a game despite the fact her gender is banned by law from attending such events. Panahi admits to resorting to deception to get permission to film on location during the competition, which enabled him to achieve a pseudo-documentary feel in his film he describes as neo-realism.
The plot is simple enough, as the story revolves around about a half-dozen, young female fans willing to risk life and limb for an opportunity to see a critical soccer game. Although disguised as boys, the girls’ are spotted at the entrance, arrested and herded to a holding area where they can hear the cheers and groans of the all-boy crowd, but are otherwise unable to observe a thing.
To their credit, the feisty heroines never give up and resort to every trick in the book to get past their guards. From the Western perspective, the feisty protagonists’ predicament might seem silly, until it gradually sinks in that this treatment is business as usual in a backward land that seems to have gotten stuck in the Middle Ages.
Alley Oop lives!

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for mature themes and mild epithets.
In Persian with subtitles
Running time: 93 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Interview with director Jafar Panahi.

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