‘Offside’ (2006) – what if women could attend a game in Iran?

Offside (2006)

In the USA, we take our freedoms for granted, but what if we, as women, were not allowed to enter a stadium? Offside takes place at an actual 2006 World Cup qualifying match in Tehran, where women disguise themselves to get in.

This documentary-like film portrays what happens when 6 women are arrested trying to enter the stadium and are held in a makeshift pen during the game. The roar of the crowd on the other side of the wall spurs the women to act in order to rightfully share in the passion and national celebration of the game.

Why is this movie so compelling? Because it is a simple story of women trying to pursue something about which they are passionate, and which the authorities withhold from them for illogical reasons.

Iranian Director Jafar Panahi’s films are all about restrictions. Even a small restriction can be representative of the greater restrictions that are imposed by governments, not countries. His films are meant to record history, and he promises to never lie to himself nor his viewers.

For that reason and for believability, Panahi did not use professional actors. He also snuck in cameras to the actual qualifying game (Iran vs Bahrain) and filmed during it. It was destiny that the game proceeded according to the script that Panahi hoped to record, including the post-game celebration.

About Jafar Panahi

There is a fascinating set of 14 YouTube video interviews of Jafar Panahi where he discusses the making of this film. Offside derived from a personal experience with his then 10-11 year old daughter. She wanted to accompany him to a match but despite his pleas with security, she was denied entrance. She told him to go in by himself, and within 10 minutes, she joined him inside, saying “There is always a way”.

Jafar Panahi is considered a dissident by the Iranian government and has been barred from producing any films in Iran for 20 years. From what I can tell, he remains in some form of house arrest and is not allowed to leave the country.

It makes me appreciate an MLS game and my freedom to go watch it in person.

7 Soccer Movie Mom Rating = 7