AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

10/18/07

Offside: Female Spectator Subversion Scores At Iranian Soccer Match

By Prairie Miller

What with the wild stuff that goes on at soccer matches these days, it may not be the best place for young girls to turn up and hang around, no matter how sports crazed they may be. But director Jafar Panahi drums up more female spectator drama just adjacent to the field than within with his sports satire, Offside. Because in his native Iran, stadiums with lots of bare legged hairy men kicking a ball around, are strictly off limits for females. So with the biggest challenge in Offside not who wins the game but which daring enough girls manage to sneak into the stadium undetected, Panahi cooks up a deliciously irreverent story about the spunky attitude of some modern minded young women mixing it up with outdated national resistance to change.

With a bold mix of wishful thinking fantasy and stirring truth stranger than fiction, Panahi filmed his story somewhat on the sly at an actual World Cup-qualifying soccer match in Teheran. The fearless teens dressed up as boys and attempting to slip through the surging crowd with bootlegged tickets at the admission gates, all get caught and rounded up into an outdoor holding pen, tantalizingly just out of sight of the playing field. The extended verbal clash between these tough young city women and the perplexed country boy soldiers charged with minding them is rife with bold humor and a stinging critique touching on unbending social conventions. Great fun for sports fans of all genders and persuasions.

Prairie Miller

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