Jailed Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi (This Is Not a Film) made his fourth of five NYFF appearances with this sharply observed social comedy inspired by the sexual segregation that prohibits women from entering Iranian football stadiums. Set on the day of a World Cup qualifying match between Iran and Bahrain—an actual match into which Panahi inserted himself and his crew—Offside follows the ingenious efforts of one young woman to disguise herself as a man and slip unnoticed into the stadium. When she is caught, she finds herself sequestered with multiple others who have tried the same approach, all watched over by a gaggle of bored young soldiers who, like their detainees, would like nothing more than to be watching the game. The scenario at times suggests a farcical inversion of Panahi’s earlier women-in-prison drama The Circle, using humor to expose the often absurd position of women in Iranian society. In the movie’s pièce de resistance, the soldiers must escort one of the women to the bathroom… in a building that has no female bathrooms. Winner of the Silver Bear at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival.
“The daring young Iranian women in this subversive celebration of fandom and feminism from Jafar Panahi demonstrate a resourcefulness—and offhand rebelliousness—never before seen in Iranian dramas of sexual segregation.” —NYFF44 program note
“Part sports-inspirational, part women's prison film, Offside confounds expectations regarding genre as well as gender. Panahi has things both ways—his movie is critical and utopian, cinema verité and political allegory.” —J. Hoberman, The Village Voice
“****. Jafar Panahi of Iran is one of his country's great filmmakers, and Offside is his best movie to date.” —Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune
Images courtesy of JAFAR PANAHI FILM PRODUCTIONS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION