If you thought reading Lolita was brave, imagine being a lesbian in a strict Islamic country.
Four years after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared there are no gays in Iran during a speech at Columbia University, an Iranian-American filmmaker courageously portrays an unusual story of two Iranian lesbians who struggle under religious and cultural repression to explore their sexuality.
Iranians are, in general, culturally hesitant to publicly talk about their private lives and sexuality, so the sex scenes between two schoolgirls Atefeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemi) in Circumstance, take the viewer to the most extreme parts of Iranian underground lifestyle.
While Maryam Keshavarz's portrayal is bold, and addresses a major taboo in Iran, many lesbians who actively live and love in the shadows there say the movie is not necessarily a true portrayal. The Daily Beast: Fashion Week Honors 9/11
The young Iranian-American director, who grew up in the United States, filmed the movie in Lebanon, away from the eyes of Iranian authorities. But even in Lebanon it was a daring project to tackle as the film's subject was unbeknownst to Lebanese authorities. Still, it seems that security concerns may have limited her in creating an Iran that feels real—especially for those who know the country and the culture. Choices of locations, set designs, clothing, dialogues, and even makeup often appeared unrealistic and artificial. The actresses, Atefeh and Shireen, clearly grew up in the West, with strong accents, and although they try to talk like Tehrani girls, they remain hard to believe.
Read more about Circumstance at The Daily Beast: How Lesbians Live in Iran.
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