In 2014, Akram Khan has teamed up with director Richard Raymond to bring Raymond’s directorial debut Desert Dancer to the big screen, starring actors Freida Pinto, Reece Ritchie and Tom Cullen.
Set in Iran, where dance is illegal and punishable by prison – Desert Dancer is the incredible true story of Afshin Ghaffarian who risks everything to fight for his dreams. 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. As their skills develop the group put on a secret dance performance deep in the desert. Their story plays out against the 2009 protests, when the passion and defiance of a young generation lit the flame of revolution still sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.