During the chaos of the 2005 World Cup playoff match between Iran and Bahrain, a teenage girl (Mobarakshai) tries to enter Tehran's sport stadium dressed as a boy, but is quickly apprehended by a soldier (Samandar). Minutes later, she's stuffed into a holding pen with a group of outspoken female soccer fans who just want to watch the game — and they aren't above hectoring, cajoling, debating, or manipulating their captors to get in.
Written by Panahi after his own 10-year-old daughter was denied entrance to a soccer game due to Islamic restrictions against the mingling of men and women in public arenas, "Offside" is a sharp firecracker of a movie, filmed in real time at an actual World Cup-qualifying match and in its celebratory aftermath. Panahi ("The Circle") has always focused on the injustice of a society in which the basic rights of women are severely curtailed. Here, a rallying event for the entire country is the catalyst for acts of resistance, starring a group of determined young girls you won't soon forget. Not surprisingly, the film was banned in Iran.