Offside. 2006. Iran. Directed by Jafar Panahi. Screenplay by Panahi, Shadmehr Rastin. With Sima Mobarak-Shahi, Shayesteh Irani, Ayda Sadeqi. 35mm. In Persian; English subtitles. 93 min.
Iranians are soccer-crazed but half of them—women—are banned from the stadiums. To cheer for their national team, those with means can travel abroad, but there is always another way for those creative and daring enough. Shot during the actual game between Iran and Bahrain to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, this fictional tale with a documentary touch focuses on several young women’s comical attempts to sneak into Tehran's Azadi Stadium. The humorous tricks they deploy are in sharp contrast to the very real repression they suffer. Director Jafar Panahi (The Circle, Crimson Gold, This Is Not a Film), never one to shy away from provocative subjects, won the Berlin International Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for this sharp-witted film.