Maryam Keshavarz’s film Circumstance (2011) uses a scene of film
consumption to expose the international fault lines of politics and
sexuality. The film is set in con temporary Tehran and centers on two
young Ira nian women, Atafeh and Shireen, who are in love but are
compelled to hide their relationship. With their friends Joey and Hos-
sein, the women visit a back- room video store to buy Western movies
(figure I.1). They come across Gus Van Sant’s Milk (2008) and begin to
discuss its politics. For Joey and Hossein, Milk matters primarily not
as a story of gay rights but as a story of po litical activism and an inspir-
ing example of grassroots organ izing for the youth of Iran. Thus, Joey
proclaims, “This film is not about fucking. It is about human rights!”
to which Atafeh responds, “Fucking is a human right.” The question
of how to read a film such as Milk and what a “gay” film might sig-
nify internationally is explic itly played out in this exchange. If fucking
is a human right, then queerness takes its place on a certain kind of
INT RODUCTION
Queer, World, Cinema
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