Award-Winning Film Faces Iran Ban
Iranian director JAFAR PANAHI's award-winning movie OFFSIDE, a humorous look at the ban on women at soccer matches, faces being banned in his home country. Offside, which won a Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year (06), follows a group of girls who disguise themselves as boys to try and watch Iran qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. But officials in Iran, where women have been forbidden entrance to soccer games since 1979, are currently deliberating over whether to ban Offside or not. Panahi says, "I chose the title since the term is a punitive measure for trying to score illegally, and the girls in my film are also trying to get into the stadium illegally. "Most of my films talk about restrictions imposed on human beings, and here women are more restricted than men. So I used soccer as a means to show the restrictions. "I have been waiting for permission... but they've not said 'yes' or even 'no'." Censors ruled that Panahi's 2000 film THE CIRCLE, which won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, was unsuitable for screening in Iran. However, it is not uncommon for a decision never to be made - something Panahi hopes to avoid with Offside. He adds, "I prefer for my films to be allowed to be screened publicly here, and do not end up like The Circle."