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Desert Dancer

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements, some drug material and violence.
not reviewed
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Biography Drama
Length:
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
2014
USA Release:
April 10, 2015 (limited—25 theaters)
April 17, 2015 (expansion)
DVD: December 1, 2015
Copyright, Relativity Media click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media Copyright, Relativity Media
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Relativity Media

importance of freedom

living in a nation where YouTube and dancing are banned

passion and defiance of a young generation lighting the flame of revolution

dancing in the Bible

taking risks to achieve your dream

ancient Persia

Copyright, Relativity Media
Islam

About Islam—An Overview for Christians

Witnessing to Muslims

Recommended resources

Featuring: Freida Pinto … Elaheh
Nazanin Boniadi … Parisa Ghaffarian
Tom Cullen … Ardavan
Reece Ritchie … Afshin Ghaffarian
Simon Kassianides … Sattar
Marama Corlett … Mona
Akin Gazi … Farid Ghaffarian
Mourad Zaoui … The student
Makram Khoury … Mehdi
Tolga Safer … Stephano
Davood Ghadami … Basij Leader
Neet Mohan … Javadi, Naser
more »
Director: Richard Raymond
Producer: CrossDay Productions Ltd.
Head Gear Films
more »
Distributor: Relativity Media

“Freedom takes courage”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “Inspirational true story of Iranian dancer Afshin Ghaffarian, who risked his life for his dream to become a dancer despite a nationwide dancing ban.

Set in Iran, where dance is illegal, Desert Dancer tells the story of Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Ritchie) who risked his life to fight for his dream to become a dancer. Afshin Gaffarian who taught himself to dance using YouTube, despite such activities being forbidden in his country.

The story follows Afshin as he hacks into YouTube (also banned in Iran) and teaches himself how to dance by watching music videos—everything from Michael Jackson and Bob Fosse to Pina Bausch, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. With YouTube as his teacher, Afshin starts an underground dance company at university with his friends and performed in secret. As their skills develop Afshin Ghaffarian and a group of others then planned a concert, hundreds of miles outside Tehran in the middle of the desert. Despite the danger, an audience traveled to watch his forbidden performances and Afshin became known as the Desert Dancer. Their story plays against the backdrop of the 2009-10 election protests, where the passion and defiance of a young generation lit the flame of revolution still sweeping the Middle East and Africa.”

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


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Movie Critics

…uneven drama… But the film takes off during its own dance sequences, especially those between Ritchie and Pinto; the illicit performance they stage in the desert for a handful of bold young supporters, under the looming threat of arrest, is beautiful and moving. … [2½/4]
—Sara Stewart, New York Post

…never overcomes a sluggish solemnity, the film’s political points dulled by performances from Freida Pinto and Reece Ritchie which overvalue glum earnestness. …
—Tim Grierson, Screen Daily

…has its moments, but not many… A static “Desert Dancer” lands flat footed…
—Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter

…thoroughly generic… leaves you craving more truth and less canned inspirationalism… its heart (but little else) in the right place…
—Scott Foundas, Variety

…The choreography, by Akram Khan, is arresting, and Ms. Pinto, even with an unfocused and underwritten role, is captivating… suffers mightily from simplistic and sentimental tendencies…
—Andy Webster, The New York Times

…The compelling storyline is undermined by cliched plotting and characterizations…
—Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter

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