Ryan Wilson

Circumstance – Review

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Circumstance tells the story of Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), two 16-year-old Iranian lesbian girls of two very different upbringings. These two classmates appear by day as the very model of Middle Eastern modesty, but at night they explore the underground world of Iran: a world filled with music, dancing, movies, and sexual discovery. The girls soon discover that this underground world cannot stay underground forever, as Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai), Atafeh’s older brother who recently traded a drug addiction for a religious addiction, sets up 24 hour surveillance on the girls and the family.

While not an autobiographical film, director/writer Maryam Keshavarz based certain aspects of the film off of her own experiences as an Iranian teenager, such as her time traversing the underground scene of Iran. However, in it’s heart, Circumstance is not simply a movie about the oppression of gay citizens, but a stance on the oppression of the Iranian people as a whole. While American teenagers face nothing more than a slap on the wrist for doing what society deems unruly, Middle Eastern teenagers face treason charges and prison time for simply enjoying the wrong music.

Instead of classical Iranian music, the director has chosen to feature Persian hip hop to score this film. Hip hop in the Middle East is underground and very political in nature, complimenting the revolutionary minds of the youth in this picture well.

Will this movie turn heads in its native country of Iran? Only time will tell, because while the movie cannot be shown in most Middle Eastern theaters, eventually the movie will receive a DVD release. All it takes is a few traveling Persian youths to obtain copies while traveling abroad to change the world.

More facts about Circumstance
Circumstance was filmed in Lebanon, as the subject matter is considered very much illegal in Iran.
– Over 2000 people auditioned for the roles of Atafeh and Shireen.
– The actors were required to have dual passports, as the subject matter would very likely leave them unable to return to Iran.
– The soundtrack to the movie will be available in November, and will include a booklet containing translations to the lyrics.

Circumstance opened Friday to limited theaters.

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