Desert Dancer

Unless you’re a character in Footloose, it’s easy to take dancing for granted in the U.S. But the characters of Desert Dancer don’t have that luxury. Set in modern-day Iran, the fact-based drama follows Afshin Ghaffarian, a young man (played by Reece Ritchie) whose gift for dance is stifled by an oppressive government.

Instead of tamping down his creative passion, however, the dancer uses his talent to make a statement. He starts a secret group with a few other creatives, culminating in a one-of-a-kind performance in a remote desert location. Richard Raymond directed and Freida PintoTom CullenMakram J. Khoury, and Nazanin Boniadi also star. Watch the Desert Dancer trailer after the jump.

Relativity debuted the first Desert Dancer trailer on YouTube.

The “based on a true story” label can be pretty suspect at this point, as it gets slapped on everything from Selma to Deliver Us From Evil, and . But the most dramatic aspects of Ghaffarian’s tale are genuine. As outlined in this 2010 piece from The Australian, dancing really is banned in Iran, Ghaffarian really did start an underground troupe, they really did perform in the desert, and he really was threatened for his actions.

And sadly, Ghaffarian is far from the last person to suffer for daring to express himself. It was just last year that a group of young Iranians were arrested for making a viral video of themselves dancing to Pharrell’s “Happy.”

Desert Dancer is in theaters April 10.

Set in Iran, this powerful and unbelievable true story follows the brave ambition of Afshin Ghaffarian. During the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election, where many cultural freedoms were threatened, Afshin and some friends (including Elaheh played by Freida Pinto) risk their lives and form an underground dance company. Through banned online videos, they learn from timeless legends who cross all cultural divides, such as Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev. Afshin and Elaheh also learn much from each other, most importantly how to embrace their passion for dance and for one another.

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