Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blackboards

Beautiful film is made on-location. 
[The writeup might contain spoilers.]

Kurdish teachers looking for pupils
During Iraq-Iran war few Kurdish teachers travel from places to places  looking for pupils in the hills and villages of Iran, near Iraqi boarders. They carry blackboards on their backs and offer anyone they meet on the way to teach reading and writing. All schools in the areas are supposedly bombarded, and the chemical war is forcing everyone for a hard time. Even pre-teen boys work hard to earn their livelihood. Armed securities patrol the skies and roads, and shoot anyone suspicious.

The jobless teachers, blackboards tied on their backs, who are travelling in a flock separate at one point after their personal assumptions of danger upon taking specific routes. The film then follows only two teachers, Reeboir (Bahman Ghobadi) and Said (Said Mohamadi).

Reeboir meets a group of preteens, who consider themselves as only mules, carrying illegal goods to the boarder. Kids reject his idea of teaching, but one accepts his proposal to teach while walking to the border. 

Said marrying Halaleh en route
Said, hopelessly exhausted after travelling from villages to villages looking for pupils, ends up with a group of elderly nomads looking for their bombarded village near the boarder. He offers them to teach reading and writing, but the clan struggling until their last breath to find their way to their village take him lightly. He settles with guiding them to their village in exchange of 40 walnuts. In the way, he marries Halaleh (Behnaz Jafari), the sole woman in the group, a widow with a young son, accepting to give his only belonging, the blackboard as dowry to her.

Samira Makhmalbaf
Directed by twenty years old Samira Makhmalbaf, Blackboards [2000] is a journey of hope in an epidemic. It narrates sociopolitical situation of Kurdish people and border residences through the journey of few jobless teachers. Actors have lived their roles very well. They look very ordinary and raw; at times one is influenced to check if they are real people living their difficult fate.

Makhmalbaf wrote this film with her father, renowned Irani filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The film won Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival, 2000. Truly influential!

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