Big news this week is the release of the film “Bears There Are”, by the Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi. It is another essential title of the work of a filmmaker who, since 2010, has been the target of various forms of condemnation by the authorities of his country, to the point of having been banned from filming for 20 years — which, in any case, This has not happened, as evidenced by “Ursos Não Há”, or even other works such as “Taxi” (2015) and “Três Rostos” (2018), both also released on the Portuguese market.
Panahi’s love for his country is reflected in the mixture of coldness and forcefulness with which he has been able to look at the internal wounds of Iranian society. It is therefore worth resorting to streaming and discovering or rediscovering one of his films from before the aforementioned date — for example, “Offside – Fora de Jogo”, distinguished with a Silver Bear at the 2006 Berlin Film Festival.
The premise is very easy to summarize: it all starts with a girl, played by Sima Mobarak-Shahi, who disguises herself as a boy in order to be able to watch a football match between the teams of Iran and Bahrain (relating to the qualifying phase for the World Cup)… Why your disguise? Because in Iran women are not allowed to watch football matches. Discovered by a security guard, she is sent to a prison cell where she encounters other girls who have tried to accomplish the same feat…
Notable in Panahi’s narrative (in fact, in all of his cinema) is the care with which he tells this story, not through more or less abstract generalizations, but in a tone of methodical realism. The characters are living and believable figures, while the places have an immediate effect of truth. “Offside – Fora de Jogo” is a social testimony conceived from an understanding as rigorous as it is didactic of cinematographic work itself.