A Director Offside

Six years in prison, and 20 years before he can film or even write again. That’s the sentence meted out earlier this year to Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. A weeklong festival, Iran Beyond Censorship, honors his work and that of some colleagues, starting with Panahi’s last completed feature, 2006’s Offside. In revolutionary Iran, women can’t attend public sporting events; this film follows a group of several women who, disguised, try to sneak into the 2005 World Cup playoff between Iran and Bahrain. Cleverly, Panahi shot scenes for this film on location in and around the Tehran stadium where the game was played, while it was being played. That and his practice of shooting his films in series of long, fluid takes lends his work authentic atmosphere while his well-cast actors’ vivid self-expression give Offside its soul. It screens with what we hope won’t be his last film, The Accordion (2010) a seven-minute vignette about two child street musicians. In his statement to the 2011 Berlin Film Festival, Panahi expressed the wish that his “fellow filmmakers in every corner of the world would create such great films that by the time I leave the prison I will be inspired to continue to live in the world they have dreamed of in their films.” We hope so too.

Offside and The Accordion screen at 2 p.m.
March 20-27, 2011

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