Desert Dancer

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Desert Dancer
Directed by Richard Raymond
Produced by
  • Richard Raymond
Written by Jon Croker
Music by Benjamin Wallfisch
Cinematography Carlos Catalan
Distributed by Six Sales
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $6,000,000

Desert Dancer is an upcoming biographical film directed by Richard Raymond. Desert dancer tells a true story of a young, self-taught dancer in Iran, Afshin Ghaffarian, who risked his life for his dream to become a dancer despite a nationwide dancing ban.[1]


Set in Iran, where dance is illegal, Desert Dancer tells the story of Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Ritchie) who risked his life to fight for his dream to become a dancer. Afshin Gaffarian who taught himself to dance using YouTube, despite such activities being forbidden in his country.The story follows Afshin as he hacks into YouTube (also banned in Iran) and teaches himself how to dance by watching music videos - everything from Michael Jackson and Bob Fosse to Pina Bausch, Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. With YouTube as his teacher, Afshin starts an underground dance company at university with his friends and performed in secret. As their skills develop Afshin Ghaffarian and a group of others then planned a concert, hundreds of miles outside Tehran in the middle of the desert. Despite the danger, an audience traveled to watch his forbidden performances and Afshin became known as the Desert Dancer. Their story plays against the backdrop of the 2009-10 election protests, where the passion and defiance of a young generation lit the flame of revolution still sweeping the Middle East and Africa.


Actor Role
Reece Ritchie Afshin Ghaffarian
Freida Pinto Elaheh
Nazanin Boniadi Parisa Ghaffarian
Tom Cullen Ardavan
Marama Corlett Mona
Simon Kassianides Sattar
Akin Gazi Farid Ghaffarian
Tolga Safer Stephano
Makram Khoury Mehdi


Richard Raymond who is making his full-length debut and is working with acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan, whose work featured in the Olympic opening ceremony at London 2012. Richard Raymond is producing the film through his May 13 Films banner. Freida Pinto undertook an intensive training schedule for the role that comprised eight hours of dance rehearsals every day for 14 weeks.[2] Photo call for the film was held at the Palais des Festivals during the third day of the 65th annual Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France on Friday May 18, 2012.[3][4]Relativity Media has acquired North America distribution rights to the film [5] at 2013 American Film Market.[6]

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