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Offside (Sous-titres français)

Sima Mobarak-Shahi , Shayesteh Irani , Jafar Panahi    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Description

This internationally award-winning film casually and sometimes caustically uncovers what binds us - and blinds us - to the differences between our ways of life in the West with modern day Iran. Fascinating, funny and tragic, it's "Score one for the ladies!" raves J. Hoberman of The Village Voice. The Tehran soccer stadium roars with 100,000 cheering men - and only men. According to Islamic custom, women are not allowed, and the ambitious girls who manage to sneak in are caught and sent to a holding pen, guarded by male soldiers their own age. Duty makes the young men and women adversaries, but duty can't overcome their shared dreams, their mutual attraction, and ultimately their overriding sense of national pride and humanity.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! May 18 2014
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I loved this film and it's depiction of Iranian women who deserve the freedom of sports etc. I recommend this film to soccer lovers all over especially women.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars who says sports are not important? June 14 2009
By Brian Maitland TOP 500 REVIEWER
Although this movie is making a political and social statement about how stupid the gender laws are in Iran, it is also one of the few movies in my lifetime made that truly show how every fibre of a sports fan's body ebbs and flows with the ebbs and flows of any tension-filled game.

Having said that the movie has a few flaws. Too much of it is spent on the women being penned in so close yet so far from seeing the soccer heroes of Iran take on Bahrain in a crucial World Cup qualifying match. I felt once that was established, they could have shortened those scenes by half.

Also, I had trouble with the ending. It ends abruptly like they either ran out of money or just gave up. I get the statement was made but it was almost the end of the Sopranos TV series-like. All that was missing was the screen going black.

The director, though, does understand the mentality of soccer fans and how be they male or female how the "atmosphere" is more important than the actual game really.

The extras are just an interview with the director which although enlightening I was wasn't prepared to sit through 36 mins of.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a triumph of movie naturalism Jan. 6 2008
By Roland E. Zwick - Published on Amazon.com

In Iran, women are not permitted to attend men's sporting events, apparently to "protect" them from all the cursing and foul language they might hear emanating from the male fans (so since men can`t restrain or behave themselves, women are forced to suffer. Go figure.). "Offside" tells the tale of a half dozen or so young women who, dressed like men, attempt to sneak into the high-stakes match between Iran and Bahrain that, in 2005, qualified Iran to go to the World Cup (the movie was actually filmed in large part during that game).

"Offside" is a slice-of-life comedy that will remind you of all those great humanistic films ("The Shop on Main Street," "Loves of a Blonde," "Closely Watched Trains" etc.) that flowed out of Communist Czechoslovakia as part of the "Prague Miracle" in the mid 1960's. As with many of those works, "Offside" is more concerned with observing life than with devising any kind of elaborately contrived fictional narrative. Indeed, it is the simplicity of the setup and the naturalism of the style that make the movie so effective.

Once their ruse is discovered, the girls are corralled into a small pen right outside the stadium where they can hear the raucous cheering emanating from the game inside. Stuck where they are, all they can do is plead with the security guards to let them go in, guards who are basically bumbling, good-natured lads who are compelled to do their duty as a part of their compulsory military service. Even most of the men going into the stadium don't seem particularly perturbed at the thought of these women being allowed in. Still the prohibition persists. Yet, how can one not be impressed by the very real courage and spunk displayed by these women as they go up against a system that continues to enforce such a ridiculously regressive and archaic restriction? And, yet, the purpose of these women is not to rally behind a cause or to make a "point." They are simply obsessed fans with a burning desire to watch a soccer game and, like all the men in the country, cheer on their team.

It's hard to tell just how much of the dialogue is scripted and how much of it is extemporaneous, but, in either case, the actors, with their marvelously expressive faces, do a magnificent job making each moment seem utterly real and convincing. Mohammad Kheir-abadi and Shayesteh Irani are notable standouts in a uniformly excellent cast. The structure of the film is also very loose and freeform, as writer/director Jafar Panahi and co-writer Shadmehr Rastin focus for a few brief moments on one or two of the characters, then move smoothly and effortlessly onto others. With this documentary-type approach, we come to feel as if we are witnessing an actual event unfolding in "real time." Very often, it's quite easy for us to forget we're actually watching a movie.

It was a very smart move on the part of the filmmakers to include so much good-natured humor in the film (it's what the Czech filmmakers did as well), the better to point up the utter absurdity of the situation and broaden the appeal of the film for audiences both domestic and foreign. "Offside" is obviously a cry for justice, but it is one that is made all the more effective by its refusal to make of its story a heavy-breathing tragedy. Instead, it realizes that nothing breaks down social barriers quite as efficiently as humor and an appeal to the audience's common humanity. And isn't that what true art is supposed to be all about?

In its own quiet, understated way, "Offside" is one of the great, under-appreciated gems of 2007.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Film about Sexism and Soccer in Iran Sept. 22 2007
By Jason D. Moss - Published on Amazon.com
This film should not only have been released in Iran, but also should be seen the world over. I watched it with a friend of mine who was born in Iran and had told me all Iranian films were dark and depressing; to our delight, this one was colorful and funny. It consists in a series of exchanges between girls passionate about soccer - but banned from seeing their home team play the game that will ultimately take them to the World Cup - and their captors, miltary policemen who share the girls' football-fever but must keep them held like cattle in a pen. The premise, of course, is a metaphor for the plight of women in Iran. But rather than take a didactic or overtly political stance, the director brings out the comedy in the situation. As the scenes unfold we see these dim-witted soldiers overrun by the young girls' determination, leaving us with a sense that these ancient Iranian rules are an emotional burden on modern Iranians, who in this case just want to band together and celebrate. The film also suggests, bravely, that perhaps the love of sport is somehow more important than devotion to ancient cultural tradition. While we in America have the luxury of bemoaning our culture's preoccupation with things like basketball and football, this film challenges us to consider that there might be something more meaningful in the ways we as people come together under the banner of our favorite teams. And that maybe that something has everything to do with fundamental human liberty.
But perhaps best of all, this film ends perfectly. The final scene is simple, powerful, and uplifting. I give it 5 out of 5.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Absurdity of Censorship Seen through Iranian Soccer Fans. Sept. 15 2007
By mirasreviews - Published on Amazon.com
Director Jafar Panahi was inspired to write "Offside" by his own daughter's ability to slip in to a stadium to watch a soccer match with her father in Iran, where women and girls are not allowed to attend men's sports events. "Offside" focuses on a group of young women who disguise themselves as men to attend Iran's 2005 World Cup qualifying match against Bahrain in Tehran. Panahi was already on the outs with Iran's Ministry of Guidance, so he submitted a false script and director to the authorities and filmed on location with non-professional actors, including the day of the real match. Unfortunately, "Offside" was not able to get a release in Iran, but it did extremely well on black market DVD.

The excitement in Tehran is palpable as a legion of soccer fans anticipate the big match that may send Iran to the World Cup. Buses bring thousands of fans to Tehran's Azadi stadium, among them some dedicated female fans who disguise themselves as men to get in. One young woman, a first-timer with an unconvincing disguise, is caught by the military police and taken to a holding area with other busted women. The women beg and badger their guards to report on the game, heatedly debate soccer strategy, stage the occasional escape, and argue the laws that have put them there with their chief guard, a put-upon but protective man who would rather be back on his farm.

"Offside" unfolds nearly in real time for the 90-minute duration of the game. I was struck by the simplicity of the plot. Half a dozen young women wait, argue, and try to catch glimpses of the game. Nothing happens. "Offside" elaborates on very simple scenes, elucidating the characters of the women and their guards, all of whom are sympathetic and suffering from an absurd situation. The non-professional actors display varying degrees of comfort with the camera, but some convey an admirable authenticity. The film is not preachy, certainly not without humor, but criticizes the social restrictions in Iran through the brief experiences of a group of soccer fans. In Farsi with optional subtitles.

The DVD (Sony 2007): The only bonus feature is an "Interview with Director Jafar Panahi" (36 min). Panahi talks about his inspiration for the film, using soccer as a way to examine restrictions in Iran, difficulties getting the film made and distributed, working with non-professional actors, his choices of camera and time frame, and his optimism that film can effect change in Iran. The film and interview are in Farsi with English or French subtitles.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite near to 4 stars actually April 12 2011
By Tommy Dooley - Published on Amazon.com
I got this based on the favourable reviews and the fact that all of my friends who had heard of it said that it is reckoned to be very good.

The plot is excessively simple in that a group of disparate young girls want to see the Iran World Cup 2006 qualifier against Bahrain. Women are not allowed to sporting events lest they hear some swearing from the over excited men. The girls therefore adopt a number of less than believable disguises in order to get in. The match is being `policed' by army conscripts who manage to detect a number of them and coral them out of sight but within ear shot of the match. Tension is continually ramped up by the on field antics, as described by some of the guards and the crowd reaction.

Jafar Panahi has done an excellent job of getting around the censors in order to make this and it does come across as believable (sadly it was banned in Iran) even for a non football lover like myself. However, it does not diminish the totalitarian approach the state has and peoples attitudes to accepting the straight jacket of conformity that is required. Jafar actually was inspired to make this after his daughter decided she wanted to attend the match herself.

The performances are all good or excellent, but then there is little to stretch in such a simplistic plot and the humour is incidental and not `hilarious' as the cover note says. If you are interested in world cinema then this should be on your list, but a rollicking adventure full of high jinx and laughs this most certainly is not. Ultimately it does have a feel good factor in the ending as Iran beats Bahrain (now part of history) and as such is a metaphor for uniting the country. The toilet scenes were particularly interesting as a lot of the graffiti is in English keep an eye out for a scrawled `Metalica', I really liked such human touches.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHEN 'TORTURE' IS HEARING BUT NOT SEEING! June 26 2010
By Loves To Read - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
It's 2005 in Tehran and Iran is playing Bahrain for the chance to advance to the World Cup. There are 100,000 spectators cheering on the Iranian team. What's wrong with that picture? They're all men - or supposed to be. Iran doesn't allow women to attend sporting events. The official reason is they will be exposed to foul language and men's legs (the players presumably). The real reason, of course, is women are discriminated against in Iran. However, not all the fans are men at the game - they just all look like men. Some are young girls (who are allowed to play soccer) who want to see the game so badly they try to disguise themselves as men and buy a ticket. Some make it but the 'gender police' are out in full force and some are caught. This is a film (banned in Iran by the way) about those who are arrested. They are taken to a holding pen right outside the stadium where they can hear but not see the game. The film is mostly about the interaction between these young female fans and the young male guards who are assigned to make sure they are 'tortured' by hearing but not seeing. While making the point well about discrimination, the film is also a light hearted story about how young men and women in Iran see their roles and the lengths some young women will go to see a forbidden soccer match. Don't expect soccer action (actual game footage is measured in seconds) but a good story about culture and another opportunity to learn about a country we hear so much about but really don't know much about. Much of the film was shot at the stadium the actual day of the big match so it has an authentic feel - a kind of docudrama feel.
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