Nanda Wanninayaka March 5, 2016.
“Circumstance” is a dramatic film written and directed by Maryam Keshavarz in 2011. Its main cast is done by Nikohl Boosheri, Sarah Kazemy, and Reza Sixo Safai. It focuses its scope into lesbianism in modern Iran and other cultural restrictions.
The movie shows unseen and unexpected lifestyles of the youth in modern day Iran. In the movie, two girls, Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri,) a daughter of a rich and respected family and orphaned Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) discover themselves are in a lesbian relationship, which is condemned and banned by post-revolutionary Iran. Atafeh’s elder brother, Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai) is obsessed with drugs but later becomes increasingly obsessed with Islam and becomes very conservative and old fashioned in his religious beliefs. Both Atafeh and Shireen find time to go out and have fun in secluded areas and in illicit discotheques. They also experiment with sex, drinking and drugs. One day they are caught by the Islamic Religious Police in Iran and arrested. They are taken to the police station and treated with cruelty. In the investigation to the girls’ behavior, even their virginity is checked medically by men! However, Atafeh is released from the police custody by her rich father by offering bribes to the police and it is her brother that comes to the rescue of her friend, Shireen. The whole saga shows how restricted the life is for the Iranian youth.
The movie is like a beautifully woven fabric. It shows how fast the life is for the youth and how slow the life is for typical Iranians. The sex scenes in the movies are not included forcibly. They happen with the natural flow of the movie. Believe me, they are beautifully done with showing mild but creative nudity. The movie is set in Iran but it was filmed in Lebanon to avoid the Iranian government’s interference.
The film is in Persian language and you can buy a DVD with English subtitles or download the movie from torrents with English subtitles.
The director, Maryam Keshavarz, was raised in the United States but spent summers in Iran. There she saw the unreasonable restrictions in the country and how the youth try to be adventurous and experimental. This is the first full length feature film she directed.
The critics had mainly positive reviews and it was called “A thought-provoking, insightful look into Iranian youth culture” by many. The film was banned in Iran as expected and the director Keshavarz herself was banned from returning to Iran by the Iranian government.