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Circle, The

Vo Sta

An incendiary film that goes right to the heart of gender relations in contemporary Iran, The Circle has, unsurprisingly, proved hugely controversial in its homeland. Offering up a series of episodes that take place over a single day in Tehran, it deals with all aspects of women’s lives: from the birth of an unwanted baby girl through flirtation and marriage to prostitution and abortion. Breaking numerous taboos on what can be seen and discussed, it is unafraid to equate women’s position with imprisonment from birth, and its quietly stunning conclusion can be read, remarkably, as both the honest reflection of an oppressive reality and a foundation from which resistance might spring. But its importance is not only social: dynamically extending the range of Iranian film culture, it is shot on the run, often hand-held and always mobile, authentically conveying the immediacy of lived experience. Resolutely urban, undeniably moving and far from being a dry political tract, The Circle is a passionate call for equality and self-determination and is all the more surprising coming from Jafar Panahi, the director of The White Balloon,

Iran, 2000.
English subtitles.
Colour.
Dolby stereo.
90 mins.

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