chronicles of Tehran city life

Emilie Bickerton’s article ‘Squaring the Circle‘ in the recent issue of Vertigo focuses on the work of iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi who won with his film ‘Offside’, about women illegally entering football stadiums by dressing up as men, a silver bear at Berlinale this year. Drawing a wider circle on the circles the filmmaker’s narrative intentions describe …

… The form, in other words, is part of the telling, the message will always emerge as long as you are communicating it correctly.
.. Thus circles do have a symbolic power and the idea that we all live within one has its
logic, but also its limits: if you always come back to the point of origin, is there ever any progress? “Everyone lives within a circle”, Panahi has said, “either due to economic, political, cultural or family problems or traditions” and in order to get beyond a set boundary, to widen the radius, you always have to pay a certain price. Pushing its boundaries is all very well then, but better, surely, to break them. The structure of society is not, after all, an alien imposition, but human-centred, so although it does not help to concentrate evil or oppression in a single face, as Panahi so resists in his films, at the same time, entirely to abstract the problem and make the obstacle ‘the police’ or ‘the state’ makes the fight a harder one to provoke and win. There is a danger that too much realism in the desire to avoid black and white distinctions can just shift such simplifications onto the work’s political understanding.

… So far Panahi has gone some way to capturing both and there is every reason, as Offside indicates, that his metaphors of resistance won’t remain at an allegorical level.

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