Director: Jafar Rastin
Banned in its home country of Iran, Offside begins with the following statement that-- since its banishment-- can now be viewed as ironic: “In Iran, all women are banned from men’s sporting events.” Only moments into Jafar Rastin’s neorealist styled docudrama, we meet a man looking for a young female relative whom he was told was trying to sneak into Tehran’s Azadi Stadium dressed as a boy in order to watch the last game before the world cup. Once at the stadium we meet other girls who are trying to do the exact same thing and some are dressed more convincingly than others but six get caught and are held in a makeshift pen just opposite the walls of the stadium and are supervised by soldiers who seem just as confused and disinterested by the rules they don’t quite understand as the young women. Winner of the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and a few other accolades around the globe, this fast-paced film is much better than most of the summaries of the plot made it sound. Much like the soccer game the girls long to see, Offside manages to excite, entertain and provoke surprised humor from its peculiar circumstances as we watch the characters struggle against the strange law, share their experiences and reasons for being where they are (which range from typical fandom to melodrama) and try to get the most out of the game that neither they or us as audience members observe.