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.
Rotten Tomatoes:
104 min

My name is Afshin Ghaffarian.

I'm a citizen of Iran.

And I'm a dancer.

Afshin! Afshin!

Afshin! Afshin! Afshin!

Afshin! Afshin!


Afshin, give me your hand.

Give me your hand.


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.


Sit down.


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:

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'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,


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. 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.


- 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.


- What?

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


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.

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Jon Croker


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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Desert Dancer" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 25 Nov. 2020. <>.

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