Maryam Keshavarz: 'In Iran, anything illegal becomes politically subversive'
The Guardian / Homa Khaleeli

"I've always had the tendency to cause trouble," says Maryam Keshavarz. The 36-year-old is speaking down the line from an idyllic-sounding writers' retreat in Portugal, but with the release of Circumstance in the UK this week, the first-time director is not far from controversy.

Set in Iran, the film follows two girls: Atafeh, raised in a rich liberal home, and Shireen, an orphan whose conservative uncle cannot afford to pay for her schooling. Against a backdrop of hedonistic underground parties, the teenagers' intense friendship spills over into a passionate love affair. With homosexuality illegal in Iran (punishable by lashings or even death) their happiness is threatened by the jealousy of Atafeh's brother, an ex-drug addict who finds religion and with it the ear of the powerful morality police.

Replete with illicit sex, drugs and alcohol, and furious in its criticism of the Islamic Republic, the movie's forthright style has made Keshavarz a target of death threats

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