Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Movie You Might Have Missed: 39

In Iran, all women are banned from men's sporting events. Can they sneak in to see Iran qualify for the World Cup?

39. Offside

This little movie is a real charmer.

A number of Iranian girls attempt to enter Tehran's Azadi Stadium dressed as boys in order to watch a qualifying match that will get Iran into the World Cup competition. Several are arrested and the movie largely consists of watching their attempts to escape or talk the guards into letting them go.

Ironically, the ostensible reason for keeping women out of the stadium is to protect their delicate sensibilities when the men become overcome by excitement and begin swearing at missed goals and the like. A stadium entryway is tantalizingly close so that several guards are able to watch part of the game and naturally ... swear when goals are missed. No one blinks an eye.

Likewise, when one woman engages the head guard in a logical discussion about why the law is nonsensical, he knows she is right but is unable to do anything but his duty.

What was most interesting to me was this look into Iran as this was filmed on location during the actual sporting event. The men are all dressed Western-style in shirts and slacks while any women we see are sporting terrible attempts to pass for boys. Also interesting was that all the other men we see (with the exception of one father) are largely sympathetic to the girls' attempts to see the match in person. They routinely attempt to help them slip into the stadium or refuse to turn them in.

As I said before, this is a small movie but ultimately it is one that is a lot of fun, especially during the scene when one hapless guard has to find a way to get one of the girls into the all-male bathroom.

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