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Circumstance (2011)

Director: Maryam Keshavarz
Stars: Sarah Kazemy, Nikohl Boosheri, Reza Sixo Safai, Soheil Parsa

Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri) and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy) are just a couple of teenage friends who experiment with sex, drugs, and partying. In the U.S., this would be another raunchy Judd Apatow comedy. However, in Iran, it's anything but a free-for-all good time. Morality is heavily policed in Iran, and any deviant behavior is strictly forbidden. Don't even get us started on where homosexuality falls on that spectrum. You can't help who you fall in love with, and Atafeh and Shireen happen to fall in love with each other.

In order to get the film even made, the crew had to shoot in Lebanon, which is still controlled by the militant Islamist group Hezbollah. Thus, they shot under the guise that it was Keshavarz's thesis film, and not a commercial endeavor. The risk was worth it, as Keshavarz turns in a truly heartbreaking film that pits uncontrollable love against custom, tradition, and other self-imposed societal rules. TA

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