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Though its setting resembles Tehran, Circumstance was actually shot in Lebanon. I’ve had so many messages from Iran on Facebook, so I know it’s out there.” It has been released in America, where it won the audience award at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
It has not been officially distributed in Iran: “That would be impossible,” Keshavarz admits. But it’s fair to say Circumstance sharply divides opinion, especially among Iranian expats.“Fights have broken out at screenings in Los Angeles,” Keshavarz tells me, looking delighted.
Still, that’s not the same as saying no one in Iran has seen it: “It’s huge there! In Chicago, where there are lots of conservative Iranians, people walked out at the first sex scene, shouting ‘It’s disgusting’.
I’m fascinated to go to screenings, answer questions from the audience and hear people’s reactions.
“A lot of women in Iran push the boundaries in terms of the way they dress,” she reflects.
“It’s a political act, and it’s shocking to me how far some of them go.
There’ll be women there in hijab who I assume would hate the movie – and they’ve loved it.
People who don’t like the film say I’m ruining their culture. She doesn’t live in Iran all the time’.” That last point is a fair one.
The divorce rate has risen steeply; more women are choosing to live alone, or share accommodation with other women “This makes for an environment that’s drastically different from other parts of the Middle East,” Keshavarz says, “but it doesn’t remove inequality from Iranian society.