The Iran Series: Subversive Cinema

At last, on December 13th, 2011, the Iranian film Circumstance (2011) came to Netflix. The Coolidge Corner Theatre had held a screening a few months prior which I missed, so I snapped up my Netflix DVD as soon as I got the chance.

Watch it if you can. The film follows two Iranian girls, Atafeh (played by an excellent Nikohl Boosheri, whom I am now in love with), and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), and their dangerously close friendship in modern, morality police-terrorized Tehran. This film is yet another excellent addition to the growing repertoire of contemporary art, ranging from cinema to literature and everything in between, showcasing the by turns surreal and quite tangible political reality in Iran, and its cultural consequences.

I was a bit concerned when the movie began about the sheer beauty of the actresses. I wondered whether people would have the same interest in the film if it was about two gay men rather than two gorgeous young women. Lesberoticism is a tricky thing, and our human fascination (straight, gay, or otherwise) with what’s taboo could definitely undercut the film’s powerful themes. But I was quickly put at ease as the story progressed, never patronizing and always shot beautifully.

Here is the link to the trailer. And here is an interesting piece in the New York Times about the actors’ and filmmakers’ attitudes in making the film, and how they overcame obstacles (like the inability to shoot in Iran; the movie is filmed in Beirut. I guess Hezbollah was slightly less perilous to the project than the mullahs were). What else can I say? GO WATCH IT NOW.

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