Desert Dancer

Synopsis: A film based on an incredible true story. Desert Dancer is a classic hero story about brave young people risking their lives to rebel against their government and fight for their dreams. Set in Iran, where it is currently forbidden to dance, the story follows Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends who despite the dangers form an underground dance company where, via hacking into YouTube, they learn from the very best - Michael Jackson, Pina Bausch, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Reveling in the freedom of expression that dance gives them, they set upon putting on a performance deep in the desert, away from the watchful eyes of the military police.
Genre: Biography, Drama
Director(s): Richard Raymond
Production: Relativity Media
  2 nominations.
 
IMDB:
6.2
Metacritic:
49
Rotten Tomatoes:
31%
PG-13
Year:
2014
104 min
Website
93 Views


My name is Afshin Ghaffarian.

I'm a citizen of Iran.

And I'm a dancer.

Afshin! Afshin!

Afshin! Afshin! Afshin!

Afshin! Afshin!

Afshin!

Afshin, give me your hand.

Give me your hand.

Ah.

Afshin, what did you do?

I danced in class.

The teacher hit me.

You see those men over there?

They are the Basij, the morality police.

If they catch you dancing,

they will do worse than this.

But why?

Because they say dancing is forbidden.

So if you're going to do it,

you do it somewhere safe.

They are afraid of no one, Afshin.

And if they ever come for you,

you run.

Afshin Ghaffarian.

Sir.

Sit down.

So,

you like dancing?

Have you ever heard of the Saba?

It's an art center, here in Mashhad.

It's not like any other normal school.

It's a very well-kept secret.

I think you'll like it there.

It's run by a charming man.

Tomorrow, 4:
00.

Be there.

Today, I want you... Afshin!

Welcome to the Saba.

Please, do come in.

Take a seat.

Here you call me Mehdi.

There are things

you need to understand, Afshin.

Our country is like

two parallel worlds

running alongside each other.

There is the one you see outside,

and there's this one, this world,

behind closed doors.

Outside there are laws,

commandments and sin.

In here, we are free.

Here.

Here's your Saba membership card.

You've got a lot to learn,

but that's a great thing.

All right, everybody, concentrate.

I want you all to listen

to this piece of music carefully.

It's from a faraway land.

Written by an incredible artist.

It's about life, about passion,

creation.

Let it speak to you.

Let it stir the emotions in your heart.

Louie Louie, oh no

Me gotta go

A ye-yi-yi-yi, I said

Louie Louie, oh baby

Me gotta go

A fine little girl she waits for me

Catch a ship across the sea

Sail that ship about all alone

- Never know if I make it home

- Ooh!

You don't understand.

I could have had class.

I could have been a contender.

Mehdi, why do they hate us?

Girls and boys sitting in the same room,

studying the arts,

that is sin in their eyes.

Will they be back?

Oh, yes.

So, what do we do?

Get new windows.

That, Afshin,

is Rudolf Nureyev.

He was Russian.

He fled to Paris because

they were trying to imprison him.

It reminds me of Rumi's poem.

"In your light, I learned how to love.

"In your beauty,

"I found poetry.

"You dance inside my heart,

"where no one else can see you. "

Watch it some more. I'll be back.

Mousavi! Mousavi!

Mousavi! Mousavi! Mousavi! Mousavi!

Mousavi! Mousavi!

Rallies are taking place

all over Iran for the upcoming elections.

The main challenger

to the current president, Ahmadinejad,

is Mir-Hossein Mousavi.

And that is the name you can hear

ringing across the streets of Tehran.

Okay. Nice to see some new faces.

It's a shame.

I thought it was pretty good.

Yeah.

Yeah. It's always the same, you know.

I put it up, they tear it down.

I paint it on the wall,

and they cover it up.

Expression repression.

It's our little game.

But I've got plenty more paint.

Uh, I'm Afshin.

Ardi.

- Sorry.

- It's okay. It's fine.

- It's your second day, huh? First year.

- Yeah.

Where are you from? Tehran?

No, I'm from Mashhad.

Mashdi.

- What?

- Wow! You're a long way from home, huh?

Yeah.

Well, you're gonna need to know

some ground rules.

Like what?

Well, even in university,

you have to be careful.

Look. You see?

- Student Basij.

- Basij?

- Here?

- Yeah, look.

What is he doing?

Is he confiscating her book?

It must be illegal.

But we have to make a stand.

- You stay here. Stay.

- What?

Stay here.

Ardi, wait. No, Ardi.

Hey! What the hell are you doing?

What are you do...

- Ardi!

- Hey, man. How are you? Sorry I'm late.

Thanks for waiting.

Hey, I want you to meet my new friend.

Afshin! Afshin, come here.

Afshin, this is my friend Mehran.

- Hi.

- Yeah, this is Afshin, Mona.

- Hi.

- Mona, Afshin.

I hope he hasn't corrupted you yet.

No, not yet.

- Give him time.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Very funny.

Actually, what time is it?

Come on. We're gonna be late.

Hey, so, are you coming tonight?

Yeah, of course.

- Yeah?

Yeah. Actually, Mashdi, you're coming, too.

Meet us here, outside the gates, 10:00.

Okay? Bye.

Come on, let's go.

So, nice to meet you.

- Yeah, you, too.

- See you later.

This traffic is crazy.

So I keep on seeing Mehran

in my drama class,

but he doesn't look like

someone who studies drama.

So I find out his big secret, okay,

and it turns out

that he is an engineering student

who keeps on sneaking into my class

because his parents won't let him study.

- I mean, that's pretty cool.

- That's not exactly true.

That is exactly true.

Where are we going?

Hey, guys.

Afshin, welcome to the Ayatollah's

worst nightmare.

That's her boyfriend. Naser.

He's a... Actually, he's a student director.

He's taking a theater trip

to Paris next year.

Lucky bastard's getting out.

What are they smoking?

Heroin.

The regime is...

They're flooding the streets

with the sh*t, you know?

They want to numb us.

Okay, come on, let's forget them.

Let's go have some fun, eh?

Let's party. Come on.

Cyrus. How are you? Good to see you.

Ah, Beluga Vodka.

Oh, fancy. You guys want a drink?

Wait, you can get YouTube?

What about the firewall?

Proxy server.

Here, Afshin. I think you'll like this.

Broadcast in stealth

from Washington, D. C.,

this is the unofficial,

true voice of the Persian youth.

Pretty cool, huh?

The voice the regime

doesn't want you to hear.

Hey, guys.

Come on. Food's ready.

Yeah, all right. We're coming now.

Do you mind if I...

No, man. Knock yourself out.

Come on!

All right!

A billion years away

From you

I'm on my way I'm on...

I'm on...

Afshin.

You watch too much YouTube, my friend.

He's good, huh?

Hey, Afshin.

Show me that, man.

I've always wanted to do that.

Which one?

That was it, the moonwalk.

- The moonwalk?

- Yeah.

- So show me how?

- Okay. So you weight this leg.

- Yeah.

- Then switch.

And then push back. Switch.

- Okay, switch.

You're going to spoil your appetite.

Hey, guys. Time to eat. Come on.

Time to eat.

Afshin, come get some food.

You know, guys, I've been thinking.

I want to start a dance group.

What?

- I want to start a dance group.

- Yeah.

Start one in the canteen.

Dance on the tables...

Look, Mehran, I'm serious.

...with the professors.

Who are you gonna find

to be in a dance group?

Look, it's illegal, right?

Dance is illegal.

It's not illegal, technically.

- It's forbidden.

Yeah, okay, forbidden.

But totally forbidden.

Come on, Naser. So's vodka.

Wait, so you want us

to start a dance group?

No, I want us to take control of our lives.

You know, have somewhere that's ours,

where we can create.

"Somewhere that's ours. "

Yeah, with no rules.

No rules, huh?

I'd love to dance.

- Mona.

- What?

You guys are crazy.

So, how would we do it?

Well, we'd have to keep it a secret.

Who's going to teach us?

YouTube.

YouTube? Cyrus is right. You are crazy.

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Jon Croker

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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