UPDATE: Circumstance just won the US Dramatic Audience Award at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Though it’ll probably never play in the country in which it’s set, attendees at the Sundance Film Festival were lucky enough to see Maryam Keshavarz‘s debut feature Circumstance. Hopefully soon, you will too. Set in modern day Tehran, Iran, this beautiful film focuses on two attractive high school girls named Shireen and Atafeh, played by Sarah Kazemy and Nikohl Boosheri, both making their acting debuts. Though the girls live in a country where women are treated as second class, Shireen and Atafeh use their good looks, talents and smarts to live life as free as humanly possible. The friends eventually develop feelings for each other but when Atafeh’s brother Mehran (Reza Sixo Safai) comes home, the girls’ liberal point of view is doomed to be challenged.

Circumstance is an increasingly claustrophobic love story set against impossible odds told with a frightening cultural context. Of the thirty plus films I’d seen at Sundance before it, it was the first film to get a legitimate standing ovation. Read More »

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