38 user 29 critic

The White Balloon (1995)

Badkonake sefid (original title)
Unrated | | Drama, Family | 1995 (Iran)
Several people try to help a little girl to find the money her mom gave her to buy a goldfish with.


Jafar Panahi


Abbas Kiarostami, Jafar Panahi (original idea) | 1 more credit »
5 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Aida Mohammadkhani Aida Mohammadkhani ... Razieh
Mohsen Kafili Mohsen Kafili ... Ali
Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy ... Mother
Anna Borkowska Anna Borkowska ... Old Lady
Mohammad Shahani Mohammad Shahani ... Soldier
Mohammed Bakhtiar Mohammed Bakhtiar ... Tailor
Aliasghar Smadi Aliasghar Smadi ... Balloon Seller
Hamidreza Tahery Hamidreza Tahery ... Reza
Asghar Barzegar Asghar Barzegar ... Pet Shop Manager
Hasan Neamatolahi Hasan Neamatolahi ... Snake Charmer
Bosnali Bahary Bosnali Bahary ... Snake Charmer
Mohammadreza Baryar Mohammadreza Baryar ... Client in Tailor's Shop
Shaker Hayely Shaker Hayely ... Tailor's Assistant
Homayoon Rokani Homayoon Rokani ... Street Singer / Dancer
Mohammad Farakani Mohammad Farakani ... Shop Keeper


Razieh wants a fat goldfish for the Iranian New Years celebration instead of the skinny ones in her family's pond at home, because the fat fish looks like it's dancing when it swims. After many attempts she and her brother convince their mother to give them her last bit of money. Between their home and the fish store, Razieh loses the money.. She finds it, but it is temptingly just out of her reach. Written by Rudi Sahebi <rsahebi@voyager.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Family


Unrated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Jafar Panahi found lead actress Aida Mohammadkhani at the first school that he visited and immediately cast her as Razieh, but auditioned 2,600 young boys for the role of Razieh's brother Ali before settling on Mohsen Kalifi. He cast non-professionals in most of the supporting roles, including a real fish seller he found in the Rasht market and a college student to portray the young soldier. See more »


Old Lady: Here we go again! I told you, this is no place for you.
Razieh: I wanted to see what was not good for me... what they never let me see.
See more »


Featured in A Story of Children and Film (2013) See more »

User Reviews

Good gentle film - but you need patience!
23 November 2001 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Young Razieh (Aida Mohammadkhani) needs to buy a goldfish to celebrate the New Year in Iran. Her mother (Fereshteh Sadr Orfani) gives her the money and she sets out to buy said fish. Along the way she continually loses the money and must rely on the kindness of strangers to help her.

This is a very slight film. It's plot is wafer thin in terms of traditional narrative, it may well frustrate many viewers with it's gentling strolling style. However it is quite funny on the surface. The many people who come and go during Razieh's journey are amusing - from the tailor berating a customer for having a small face causing his shirts to not look correctly tailored to the antics of the honest snake charmers. It's not a laugh out loud type of film but it does have a gentle humour throughout that is fun if you are in the mood for it.

In fact you really need to be in the mood for the whole thing - if you're lacking patience then you'll probably not last out this film but if you're willing to stick with it then you may be pleasantly surprised by the whole thing. The story doesn't grip you, but the humour helps to divert attention from this. In fact the guts of this film seems to be a message on the nature of society.

Throughout the film Razieh finds herself relying on the kindness or honesty of strangers to help her get her money. The towards the end one of the characters (a soldier played by Mohammad Shaani) talks to Razieh about his sisters and about what he has in common with her. He then defends himself when Ali (Mohsen Kalifi) attacks his sister for talking with strangers. This is closely followed by a short scene where all the characters that had interacted with Razieh cross the screen at the same time without really acknowledging each other. The message here is clear - that society is a lot closer knit than we think and it's only times of trouble where we turn to others. Instead we should develop the relationships with strangers that we easily could.

However this message is not delivered until the end of the film and it's only then that you understand what you've been watching. However the gentle comedy of the strangers make it easy to follow the film till this conclusion. Unlike other reviewers I don't think Mohammadkani was that good - she did come across as a very weepy brat and it was hard to sympathise with the problems that are all her own fault. However the other roles are good, Kalifi is the best child actor as Razieh and the other characters seem natural and forced (although Shahani's soldier is a bit preachy).

Overall a gently amusing film that is light on plot, but delivers it's simple message intelligently without forcing it down your throat.

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Release Date:

1995 (Iran) See more »

Also Known As:

The White Balloon See more »

Filming Locations:

Kashan, Iran


Box Office


$150,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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