Desert Dancer is a film based on the true story of Afshin Ghaffaian, an Iranian native who decides to purse his passion of dance in Iran and start an underground dance company in 2009, in the midst of the nation’s highly controversial presidential election.
The film chronicles his real life experiences as he combats oppression from the conservative Iranian regime. His simple freedom of expression, dance, comes at a high price. Afshin must go through leaps and bounds to follow his dreams and become free.
The film has a very artistic element to it. Desert Dancer is not a major studio picture; it was independently made with a $4 million budget. It contains intense edge-of-your-seat moments though that will keep you entranced. Desert Dancer is more than just about dance. It tells the story of the terrible injustices Iranians are facing and the corrupt government’s hold on the younger generation. This story resonates with people all over the world under governmental control and censorship.
I had the pleasure of the meeting the director, British native, Richard Raymond. Desert Dancer is his directorial debut. As we spoke he told me how this film was very close to his heart and a passion project. He first read about Afshin in the paper and immediately flew out to see him to make this story into a feature film.
Desert Dancer stars Frieda Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Reece Ritchie (Prince of Persia), and Tom Cullen (Weekend). Pinto and Ritchie have no formal dance background but they were a magical combination on screen. Ritchie rehearsed for over 8 months prior to production. But beyond his dancing ability, he is an engaging actor with an immense amount of realness and transparency. Pinto immediately jumped onto the project when she read the script. Desert Dancer is truly a labor of love. It is in limited theater release on April 10 and full release on April 17.