Women’s rugby in patriarchal Iran may sound strange to rugby-mad Kiwis, but this documentary proves that there is a will, if only a way can be found around the discouragement of hardline authorities.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2010
Women’s rugby in patriarchal Iran may sound like an anomaly, but as this documentary by Iranian-New Zealander Faramarz Beheshti shows, Iranian women are more than ready to dive into the nearest ruck or maul if only the authorities will allow it. Following the Islamic Revolution in 1979, competitive sports for women were actively discouraged and it wasn’t until the social reforms of the 90s that women started to appear on the sporting field again. Women’s rugby was introduced in 2004, but shortly afterwards a change in government meant strict guidelines were reinforced. Beheshti’s film follows several teams throughout Iran as they negotiate a Kafkaesque minefield of restrictions and regulations. Practising indoors, completely covered head-to-toe and always under the watchful eye of the ever-present ‘security’ forces, these women keep training in the forlorn hope of one day playing an actual match. This film candidly illustrates the realities of life and sport in Iran in a way that will be revelatory to rugby-mad Kiwis. — MM