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NYFF: “Offside.”

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"His height is none of your business!"
Jafar Panahi makes richly humanist films about Iran that never get distributed there. In interviews, he insists that he’s a social filmmaker rather than a political one, but when you watch his films you realize how impossible it is to make such a distinction — there’s no way to make a film about day-to-day life without also depicting the politics that shape it.

"Offside," like his 2000 "The Circle," explores the plight of women in Iran, but unlike the latter film, "Offside" is lighthearted, optimistic, even kind of cute(sy). The girls in the film have been forced to pull a "Yentl" (look at that, bringing the world together through careless pop culture references) in order to get into the soccer stadium to watch the Iran v. Bahrain World Cup qualifier match. Women aren’t allowed inside (though there are exceptions) — clad in baggy clothing and caps, plenty make a go of it anyway. The film first follows a girl huddled in the corner of a rowdy bus, hoping not to be noticed, though the young men who eventually do are sympathetic. At the stadium, she buys a ticket off a scalper who uses her precarious situation as an excuse to jack up his prices; she almost makes it inside, but flees at the sight of security guards patting people down. Caught, she’s hustled off to a corral of other female would-be game-goers, who agonize over being so close to the game and unable to see it.

The girls are great, a mixed, boisterous bunch who find immediate camaraderie in their situation. A fearless tomboy smokes and tries to bully the provincial soldier overseeing them into debating the ban, when all he cares about is finishing up his stint in the army so that he can go home and take care of his family’s cattle. Another persuades one of the soldiers to give them a running commentary of the game goings-on. A third insists on using the bathroom, which turns into an extensive comedic ordeal (there are no women’s bathrooms in the stadium). Together, they seem to have trouble taking their misdeeds seriously, but then so do the men guarding them — each expresses a different level of conviction (and interest, or lack thereof) in the rules.

"Offside"’s unrestrained camerawork, real-time feel (the film was at least partially shot during an actual soccer match) and non-professional actors give it a neorealist edge that verges into documentary, and it’s only at the end, when one girl reveals unexpected motivations for being at the game, that the gears grind a little. By then, of course, Iran has won, and the streets overflow with celebrants. Social realities are put aside in the temporary high of a sports victory, and if that’s a little easy, it also gives Panahi a chance to rejoice in the chaotic human mess he so clearly adores. 

Screens October 6 and 8 at Alice Tully Hall; opens in theaters March 2007.

+ "Offside" (NYFF)
+ "Offside" (Sony Pictures Classics)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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