Director: Maryam Keshavarz
Country: France, Iran, Lebanon, USA
Running time: 105 mins
Censor Rating: R16 - violence, offensive language, drug use, sex scenes
Director/Screenplay: Maryam Keshavarz
In Farsi with English subtitles
Audience Award (Dramatic), Sundance Film Festival 2011
Being a woman and falling in love with another woman in Iran is never going to be a recipe for an easy life. However director Maryam Keshavarz has managed to make a bittersweet treat of the situation in the film Circumstance, which is showing at the New Zealand International Film Festival.
The director's first narrative feature comes to New Zealand after winning the Audience Award for Best Drama at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
It follows teenagers Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), as they fall in love in Tehran, leading a double life in a double world, as they jump from wearing frigid scarves to sneaking away to underground parties, or stripping off and going for an ocean dip in their underwear.
Using interspersed snippets of CCTV footage right from the start, it is clear that while they have momentary escapes the two women have little freedom. They are almost always being watched and judged.
It is a world where the men are in control and ultimately the two women must decide whether they want to stay bound in the country which has raised them and tied them down or run to a place they consider so free it is the stuff of fantasies: Dubai.
While the story jumps confusingly at times, suffers from a lack of background and there are a few too many oddly loose threads for it to really hit home, the film is ultimately as pretty and sad as its subjects.
Yet Circumstance is unlikely to ever screen legally in Iran, a place which refuses to recognise such love and the director fears to ever tread again, which is reason enough to watch it and celebrate the freedoms we have.