Set in Tehran, Circumstance is Maryam Keshavarzs earnest, well-intentioned first feature about womens oppression in Iran. In-love high-schoolers Atafeh (Nikohl Boosheri), a daughter of privilege, and Shireen (Sarah Kazemy), living with her uncle and grandmother after the death of her regime-challenging intellectual parents, dream of escaping to Dubai. In their frequently cut-to fantasies, the city is a utopia of high-femme boîtes and chic hotel suites for Showtime-style sapphistry.
The teenagers who seek out clandestine centers of decadent pleasure where headscarves are discarded and immodest sequined party dresses are revealed soon become the target of Atafehs older brother, now a devout Muslim (and informer for the morality police) after years of drug addiction. The writer-director often re-emphasizes the obvious, especially when the brother installs spy cams in every room of his parents well-appointed house, observing the crimes against the theocratic state from his MacBook Pro.
Oct. 14-21, 7 p.m., 2011