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Teenage Iranian girls wanting to barrack for their favourite soccer teams have to masquerade as boys to bypass the strict rules that forbid women from entering sport stadiums. But even with clever tricks, some get caught and have to find new ways to hear the score from the detention area in a crucial qualifying game against Bahrain, leading up to the 2006 World Cup.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A couple of Jafar Panahi's earlier films were banned in his home of Iran, but went on to great international acclaim. With Offside (winner of the Silver Bear at Berlin in 2006), Panahi has got pretty smart and made a comedy in which the political dangers are submerged in a way that circumvents censure at home, yet manages to make his point loud and clear.

The film takes a lighthearted look at how teenage girls try to infiltrate a soccer stadium for a big match against Bahrain in the qualifying round of the 2006 World Cup. Forbidden to attend by Government decree to protect them from the swearing and bad behaviour that is expected of the men, they are keen soccer fans and inventive with disguise.

Still some get caught, and held in a make shift pen until after the game. This is where Panahi sets the centre of his action, and where he pits the girls' arguments against the law, by putting a soldier in the position of having to explain the rationale for the law - and of course, thus reveal how ridiculous it is.

It's a valid subject, and while it is a little light as the only propeller for the cinematic engine, Panahi manages to sustain interest with a combination of well directed action and a sense of fun that elevates the film's editorial tone to an accessible pitch (pardon the pun).

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(Iran, 2006)

CAST: Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Shayesteh Irani, Ayda Sadeqi, Golmaz Farmani, Mahnaz Zabihi, Nazanin Sediq-zadeh, Melika Shafahi, Safdar Samandar

PRODUCER: Jafar Panahi

DIRECTOR: Jafar Panahi

SCRIPT: Shadmehr Rastin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rami Agami, Mahmoud Kalari

EDITOR: Jafar Panahi

MUSIC: Yuval Barazani

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 28, 2006

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