Dir: Jafar Panahi, 2006, Iran (88 min)
Sima Mobarek Shani, Safar Samandar, Shayesteh Irani
Even if you are fleeing to the cinema to escape football media saturation, you cannot fail to be charmed by Offside, a footie film where not a single shot of the match is shown. Instead we see Iran’s World Cup 2006 qualifier against Bahrain from the perspective of a group of girls who attempt to smuggle themselves into the all-male stadium.
As stereotype-busters go, the sassiness of the Tehrani girls, matched with their knowledge and passion for the game is refreshing and often hilarious. Rounded up and penned in an enclosure frustratingly close to the action, they are watched over by young army guards on national service who would much rather be tending to cattle than putting up with a bunch of cheeky female fans.
Shot with a lightness and spontaneity that keeps the girls’ enthusiasm infectious, the film gently pushes forward its wider perspective in women’s rights. Kate Taylor