Desert Dancer

Desert Dancer is a 2014 British biographical drama film directed by Richard Raymond and written by Jon Croker. Starring Reece Ritchie and Freida Pinto, the film is based on the true story of Afshin Ghaffarian, a young, self-taught dancer in Iran, who risked his life for his dream to become a dancer despite a nationwide dancing ban.[3]

Desert Dancer
Desert Dancer.jpg
North American theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Raymond
Written byJon Croker
Produced by
Parisa Dunn
CinematographyCarlos Catalán
Edited by
  • Chris Gill
  • Celia Haining
Music byBenjamin Wallfisch
  • CrossDay Productions Ltd.
  • Head Gear Films
  • Lipsync Productions
  • May 13 Films
  • Morocco Film Assistance
Distributed byMetrodome Distribution (UK)
Release date
  • 3 July 2014 (2014-07-03) (Germany)
  • 10 April 2015 (2015-04-10) (United States)
  • 15 April 2016 (2016-04-15) (United Kingdom)
Running time
104 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Romania
  • Morocco
Budget$4 million
Box office$432,560[2]


Set in Iran, the story follows the ambition of Afshin Ghaffarian. During the volatile climate of the 2009 presidential election, Afshin and some friends (including Elaheh played by Freida Pinto) risk their lives and form an underground dance company. The group learned the dancing from videos of Michael Jackson, Gene Kelly and Rudolf Nureyev even though the online videos are banned. Afshin and Elaheh also learn much from each other and learned how to embrace their passion for dance and for one another.



Richard Raymond makes his full-length film directorial debut working with acclaimed choreographer Akram Khan, whose work featured in the Olympic opening ceremony at London 2012. Raymond produced 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.[4] 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.[5][6] Relativity Media acquired North America distribution rights to the film [7] at 2013 American Film Market.[8]


Desert Dancer premiered in Germany on July 3, 2014.[9] It opened the Ischia Global Film and Music Fest in Ischia, Italy on July 13, 2014.[10] The film premiered in Hong Kong on August 28, 2014 and in the United States on April 10, 2015.[11]


The film received a mixed reception from critics. As of September 2021, the film holds a 32% approval rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 44 reviews with an average score of 5.3/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Desert Dancer never finds an agreeable rhythm, resulting in a musical drama that doesn't deliver on the promised spectacle or political commentary."[12]


  1. ^ "DESERT DANCER (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 23 February 2016. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Desert Dancer (2014) - International Box Office Results". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. 14 February 2016. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  3. ^ "Interview with Afshin Ghaffarian | Cat On The Wall Webzine". Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  4. ^ Published Saturday, Oct 13 2012, 01:07 BST (13 October 2012). "Freida Pinto: 'Dance training for Desert Dancer was daunting' - Bollywood News". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ "65th Cannes Film Festival - Desert Dancer Photocall - Cannes Film Festival 2012: Stars step up red carpet style on day 2". NY Daily News. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  6. ^ "Freida Pinto at Desert Dancer photocall at the Cannes Film Festival". Pinkvilla. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  7. ^ Dave McNary (9 November 2013). "AFM: Freida Pinto's 'Desert Dancer' Picked Up by Relativity (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  8. ^ Douglas, Edward (10 November 2013). "Relativity Picks up Desert Dancer, Starring Freida Pinto". Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  9. ^ Vorgestellt von Katja Nicodemus. "Drama: "Wüstentänzer" | - Kultur - Film". Archived from the original on 30 December 2020. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  10. ^ "Cannes: 'Desert Dancer' to Open Ischia Global Film & Music Fest". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 27 July 2014.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ "Desert Dancer (2014) Release Info". Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  12. ^ "Desert Dancer". Retrieved 18 September 2021.

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