Set against the backdrop of Iran’s volatile 2009 presidential election, this powerful film follows the incredible true story of renowned international dancer Afshin Ghaffarian. At a time when dancing is forbidden, Afshin (Reece Ritchie, Hercules) and some friends, including the beautiful Elaheh (Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire) risk their lives to form an underground dance company. Inspired by banned online videos of timeless legends like Michael Jackson and Rudolf Nureyev, Afshin and Elaheh embrace their passion for dance – and for one another. With palpable tension, breathtaking choreography and spectacular cinematography, Desert Dancer is a story of extraordinary courage, love and the fulfillment of dreams.
**Desert Dancer: In Conversation with Afshin Ghaffarian
**The Rise of the People
Cast & Crew
In his feature film debut, director Richard Raymond keeps the story moving despite some dramatic cliches.
"Desert Dancer" does manage to movingly convey the chilling, ultimately triumphant experience of Ghaffarian's struggle for creative expression under a regime that tried to crush it.
Movies about people trying to start dance companies tend to be as formulaic as sports movies, but "Desert Dancer" escapes the usual drawbacks - corniness and bad dancing - by the urgency of the context.
"Desert Dancer" is a conventional protest drama, but it offers many magic moments - especially when co-stars Freida Pinto and Reece Ritchie perform sinuous routines. Or simply gaze into each other's eyes.
A little gem that sparkles brightly as it celebrates not just dance but unshackled, uncensored creative expression.
The film plays too safe with its narrative. Fortunately, like its characters, it's most daring when it's in motion.