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Sony Pictures Classics will open OFFSIDE on March 23rd in NYC and LA


Official Selection: Berlin / Toronto / NY Film Festivals 2006

Directed by Jafar Panahi

Written by Jafar Panahi and Shadmehr Rastin

Cast: Sima Mobarak Shahi, Safar Samandar, Shayesteh Irani, M.Kheyrabadi, Ida Sadeghi, Golnaz Farmani




Many Iranian girls love soccer as much as their countrymen and sport fans all over the world but, they are prevented by law from attending soccer matches or other public sporting events in their country.  Inspired by the day when his own daughter was refused entry to a soccer stadium in Iran, Jafar Panahi’s OFFSIDE follows a day in the life of a group of Iranian girls attempting to watch their team’s World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain at the stadium in Tehran.


A disparate group of girls, united only by their desire to see their beloved team play live and in-person, disguise themselves in myriad ways, risking arrest to try to get into the game.  The girls are either caught trying to get in or are spotted in the crowd once they make it past the entry guards, and all are taken to a holding area on the upper level of the stadium, where they are tortured by being able to hear the roar of the crowd without being able to see what is happening in the match. 



The young women, who range from timid to tomboy, are guarded by a group of naïve young soldiers who would rather be watching the game themselves, out with their girlfriends or at home looking after their sheep.  The soldiers and their prisoners are so close in age, and the girls’ crimes so harmless, that they have a hard time maintaining their adversarial roles.  As the game nears its end, the girls are rounded up in a van to be transported to jail, along with another young man who was caught setting off firecrackers in the stadium.  The soldier in charge is persuaded to turn on the radio so they can hear the final moments of the game on the way and, when Iran defeats Bahrain to win the qualifying match, the day ends happily for all.




The cinema of Jafar Panahi is often described as Iranian neo-realism.  Regardless of how one chooses to categorize his powerful work, the unprecedented humanitarianism of Panahi’s films cannot be denied. Panahi’s cinema is urban, contemporary and rich with the details of human existence.  Panahi’s THE CIRCLE won the Golden Lion at the 2000 Venice Film Festival.  The unsettling drama about the social dilemma of several modern Iranian women was named FIPRESCI’s “Film of the Year” and appeared on Top 10 lists of critics worldwide.


Panahi debuted with 1995’s THE WHITE BALLOON, Camera d’Or winner at the Cannes Festival. The story of a young girl’s adventures as she seeks to buy a lucky goldfish for New Year, THE WHITE BALLOON marked the emergence of a new cinema talent. Panahi’s 1997 film, THE MIRROR, received the Locarno Festival’s Golden Leopard, and confirmed the young director’s promise. CRIMSON GOLD was selected in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2003 where it won the Jury Prize. It went on to win a number of best film awards and opened to excellent critical response.

... Payvand News - 3/1/07 ... --

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