I went to see the Iranian film Offside last week at the Portland International Film Festival (henceforth it will be PIFF).Â It was showing at the Broadway, which while of a much lower brow than the Portland Art Museum where I saw Hear and Now, it is a far better venue for watching movies.Â Especially ones with subtitles, which is one way to evolve them from movie to film.
Sometime ago, I saw a soccer match involving Saudi Arabia getting somewhat pummeled by the Ukrainian side.Â I found the game to be extremely memorable.Â This was a nice prequel to that (despite being Iranian vs. Saudi), being about the final qualifying match for Iran, in which they defeated Bahrain to move on to the World Cup final
In many Muslim countries women are not allowed to attend soccer matches or be in stadiums.Â In Offside, some girls have snuck into the stadium to watch the qualifier, dressed as men in varying degrees.Â Unfortunately, they are discovered and placed into a pen in the stadium, where they cannot see the match.
The film is centered almost entirely on this, the interactions between the girls and the guards.Â The guards are doing their jobs, not wanting to get in trouble, and having a sometimes heroic, often humorous need to protect the girls and their honor.
This movie is a profound look into the eyes of a culture.Â Iran has been quite progressive, but the ruling regime has created an oppressive way of life around somewhat extreme Muslim ideals.Â The people, however, are educated and compassionate, and again, somewhat progressive.
Offside is an entertaining social commentary about a different world, and it shows that the world doesn’t have to be as different as it is.