The audience at this weekend's 7:05 p.m. screenings of the critically acclaimed lesbian drama Circumstance received an added treat: a question-and-answer session with the star, Vancouver's Nikohl Boosheri.
"It was the first time I kissed a girl," Boosheri said with a laugh last night at the Fifth Avenue Cinemas.
She readily acknowledged that people always ask her about the intimate scenes. "They were difficult to film, but they weren't," she said paradoxically, adding that she had a high comfort level with the cast, including costar Sarah Kazemy.
The film focuses on the lives of well-educated, upper-class young Iranians trying to cope with the repressive Islamic regime. They surreptitiously party, drink, and enjoy western entertainment, while trying to hide these activities from the authorities.
"Most of my family has seen the film," she revealed. "Only one person has walked out, so that's good."
Boosheri said that all the adults in the movie attended the same theatre school in Tehran in the 1970s before the Iranian revolution, which catapulted Ayotollah Khomeini to power. So the filming in Beirut turned out to be a reunion for them. Her mother in Circumstance was played by Nasrin Pakkho, who has a theatre company in Sweden.
"She was in a famous television show that was a little risqué before the revolution," Boosheri stated.
Boosheri, who moved to Canada when she was two years old, said that making the film helped her reconnect with her Iranian heritage. After she returned from two months in Beirut, she began listening to Iranian music for the first time, which surprised her family.
"I'm very proud of the film and the way it ended up," she said. But she admitted that at times, it's difficult watching herself on screen.
Circumstance was written, directed, and coproduced by Maryam Keshavarz, and it was shot in November 2009—just a few months after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was reelected president of Iran in what many observers feel was a rigged vote.
Boosheri mentioned that as a result of making the movie, she now feels linked to the youth of Iran. They courageously tried to overturn the results in the "green wave" in support of Ahmadinejad's opponent, Mir-Houssain Mousavi, only to encounter vicious repression from the regime.
At one point, an audience member asked if she might ever go to Iran. "I'm sure I could travel to Iran," Boosheri said with a smile. "The question is if I could leave."
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