Blackboards (2000)
"Takhté siah" (original title)

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Itinerant Kurdish teachers, carrying blackboards on their backs, look for students in the hills and villages of Iran, near the Iraqi border during the Iran-Iraq war. Said falls in with a ... See full summary »


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Cast overview:
Said Mohamadi ...
Mohamad Karim Rahmati ...
Rafat Moradi ...
Mayas Rostami ...
Young boy storyteller
Saman Akbari ...
Group leader
Ahmad Bahrami ...
Marriage registrar
Mohamad Moradi ...
Match maker
Karim Moradi ...
Old man
Hassan Mohamadi ...
Rasool Mohamadi ...
The boy porter
Somaye Veisee ...
Little girl


Itinerant Kurdish teachers, carrying blackboards on their backs, look for students in the hills and villages of Iran, near the Iraqi border during the Iran-Iraq war. Said falls in with a group of old men looking for their bombed-out village; he offers to guide them, and takes as his wife Halaleh, the clan's lone woman, a widow with a young son. Reeboir attaches himself to a dozen pre-teen boys weighed down by contraband they carry across the border; they're mules, always on the move. Said and Reeboir try to teach as their potential students keep walking. Danger is close; armed soldiers patrol the skies, the roads, and the border. Is there a role for a teacher? Is there hope? Written by <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


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Release Date:

1 September 2000 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Blackboards  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$3,417 (USA) (6 December 2002)


$3,417 (USA) (6 December 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Halaleh: [to Said] My heart is like a train. At every station, someone gets on or off. But there is someone who never gets off. My son.
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Featured in How Samira Made the Blackboards (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

4 January 2001 | by (London, Ingle) – See all my reviews

This film is flawed in any number of ways - stories are unresolved; scenes of military oppression are unconvincing; and more generally I was left with a somewhat unmoved feeling when the lights came up. I thought "The apple" was a fantastic film in its challenging combination of documentary and fiction, but perhaps that an over-simplicity in "Blackboard"'s storyline was exposed by the same honest, basic direction and storytelling that made Ms Makhmalbaf's previous film really powerful.

There are definitely many positive aspects to this film as well. It fearlessly deals with one group of people (nomads who I think are Kurdish) people who really are vulnerable and at the mercy of powerful and highly suspect governments on both sides of the border. It shows that these people have a cultural strength that seems to transcend their harsh circumstances. In its other story strand it shows movingly how children, even more vulnerable, are exploited by a deregulated commercial system. Beetle-browed, bowed beneath heavy loads in the hot sun, self-defensively referring to themselves as 'mules', the kids are old before their time.

The film also has a (more or less) powerful sense of transcendental storytelling to it. The nomads are all oppressed people, looking for a promised land. The children are mythical also: the kid's story about the rabbit has an air of antiquity about it.

Neither group of oppressed people has time for the education that the main characters offer. They are too busy surviving. The use of non-actors in the film is a strength and a weakness. In a story that is more obviously fictional than "the Apple", some performances are a little wooden. But I think the emotional punch of realism, the feeling that we may in effect be watching something that is happening today somewhere in the world, more than makes up for this formal, actorly problem.

Hurriedly, then: a flawed diamond in the dust.

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