Kurdish-Iranian poet Sahel has just been released from a thirty-year prison sentence in Iran. Now the one thing keeping him going is the thought of finding his wife, who thinks him dead for over twenty years.
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 »
When an ostrich-rancher focuses on replacing his daughter's hearing aid, which breaks right before crucial exams, everything changes for a struggling rural family in Iran. Karim motorbikes ... See full summary »
Mohammad Amir Naji,
Irreverent city engineer Behzad comes to a rural village in Iran to keep vigil for a dying relative. In the meanwhile the film follows his efforts to fit in with the local community and how he changes his own attitudes as a result.
Roushan Karam Elmi
An elderly couple go about their routine of cleaning their gabbeh (a intricately-designed rug), while bickering gently with each other. Magically, a young woman appears, helping the two ... See full summary »
This documentary shows us how a Daf elaborated. It's about a family that all their children are blinded and they're running their family business. They're making Dafs which is an Iranian ... See full summary »
After their father dies, a family of five are forced to survive on their own in a Kurdish village on the border of Iran and Iraq. Matters are made worse when 12 year old Ayoub, the new head of the family, is told that his handicapped brother, Madi, needs an immediate operation in order to remain alive. This heartbreaking tale shows the lengths to which a family will go in order to survive in the harshest of conditions, where even the horses are fed liquor in order to work. Written by
Jonathan Beebe <email@example.com>
Kurdistan isn't in your atlas, but it exists, the land of a people ignored by the post-Ottoman empire boundary makers and now living in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and north-western Iran. This movie is set in a mountainous part of the Iraq-Iran border where the local Kurds eke out a living smuggling tea and tractor tyres by mule train from Iran into Iraq. (The return cargo seems to be school exercise books what the mullahs of Iran have got against those I cannot imagine). No doubt they (the Iranian Kurds) are not on President Bush's Christmas card list, but their main customers are likely to be Kurds on the Iraqi side. The main problem though is not the authorities but bandits, eager to knock off the smuggler's loads.
The hero here is 12 year old Ayoub, who has to follow in his father's footsteps after the death of his father on a smuggling trip. As Dad stepped on a landmine this is a dangerous undertaking but Ayoub is determined to earn enough money for a operation to prolong the life (if only for a few months) of his severely crippled and retarded older brother. This sounds like blatant melodramatic manipulation, and it is, but it works.
Why does it work? There's the cinemaphotography, so perfectly lit and composed you might as well be standing there. There is excellent use of hand-held cameras, especially on the trail sequences. None of the actors is professional and the whole thing has a documentary air. Above all, the emotional bonds between the characters ring true. Perhaps when you have next to nothing your family becomes all-important, though the kinship bonds here seen to weaken quickly outside the immediate family circle. Kurdistan is a tough place and people are hard, and there's not much community support for the weak and frail. The young are expected to shape up fast, or fall by the wayside. As for the horses, well, animal rights activists would be run out of town.
Yet there is a stark beauty about the film that makes it hard to dismiss the slow pace grows on you. Ayoub may be going to grow up as just another tough, ignorant, sexist tribesman, but we glimpse here (he is going to school) that he might do better. This is a remarkable and different film and a very good antidote to the recent stream of romantic comedies.
35 of 38 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?