Blackboards - 2003

Directed by Samira Makhmalbaf

Carrying only their blackboards, a pair of teachers try to find work amongst the Kurdish nomads along the Iran/Iraq border. One of the teachers tags along with a group of child smugglers hoping to cross the border undetected while the other joins up with a group of aging Kurds who want to return to their homeland before they die.

Color, 1 hour 25 minutes, Kurdish

Original Title: Takhteh Siah

Watch Trailer (French w/English subtitles), Watch Scene (Kurdish w/English subtitles)

Star Rating


Firouzan Rank # 38

Cast


Said Mohammadi Teacher #1
Behnaz Jafari Woman
Bahman Ghobadi Teacher #2
Mohammad Karim Rahmati Father
Rafatt Moradi Rivar

Crew


Writer Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Samira Makhmalbaf
Director Samira Makhmalbaf
Producer Mohammad Ahmadi
Director of Photography Ebrahim Ghafouri
Sound Recordist Behrouz Shahamat
Production Designer Akbar Meshghini
Editor Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Music Mohammad Reza Darvishi

Pictures


The movie opens with a group of teachers carrying their blackboards along the countryside.

The movie opens with a group of teachers carrying their blackboards along the countryside.

The blackboards double as shields.

The blackboards double as shields.

One of the teachers (Said Mohammadi) joins up with a group of Kurdish nomads hoping to return to their homeland in Iraq.

One of the teachers (Said Mohammadi) joins up with a group of Kurdish nomads hoping to return to their homeland in Iraq.

Finding a more useful purpose for the blackboard.

Finding a more useful purpose for the blackboard.

An unexpected marriage.

An unexpected marriage.

A second teacher (Bahman Ghobadi) tags along with a group of young smugglers - one of them shares a little bread in exchange for a lesson.

A second teacher (Bahman Ghobadi) tags along with a group of young smugglers - one of them shares a little bread in exchange for a lesson.

The teacher is happy to put his training to use.

The teacher is happy to put his training to use.

The children hide amongst the sheep to cross the border.

The children hide amongst the sheep to cross the border.

Praying on the ground of their birth.

Praying on the ground of their birth.

Finding a remnant of war.

Finding a remnant of war.

DVD


Blackboards DVD Case

Purchase DVD at Amazon.com

External Reviews


By Stephen Holden The New York Times

The stark, relentless images of exhausted travelers dragging themselves on foot through a treacherous mountain landscape in Samira Makhmalbaf's film "Blackboards" evoke an indelible and ultimately moving vision of humanity buffeted by the elements and by international political tides.

One word that might describe the world portrayed in the movie, filmed in the desolate highlands of the Kurdistan region of Iran using mostly nonprofessional actors, is prehistoric. But that description wouldn't be accurate. Modern weaponry has seeped through the crevices of this steep, arid wasteland where the ground is always shifting and the flocks of predatory birds circling the mountain peaks send out piercing, feral screeches. Continued

By Jeffrey M. Anderson Combustible Celluloid

It's surprising that Samira Makhmalbaf's "Blackboards" has finally arrived in the United States almost three years after it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May of 2000.

For one thing, director Samira Makhmalbaf's amazing first film, "The Apple" (1999), had recently played here, and many of us were looking forward to seeing what she would do next. For another thing, Iran was not considered "evil" at the time, and now it is.

Makhmalbaf is the daughter of the great Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf ("Gabbeh", "A Moment of Innocence," "Kandahar"). At age 17, she shot "The Apple" partly on video and party on government-issue film stock that her father had planned to use but donated to her. The film told of two real-life young girls who had been locked inside their home their entire lives. Makhmalbaf shot a half-documentary, half-poem describing their plight and their unique outlook on the world. Father Mohsen helped write the movie's "screenplay" and helped edit the finished film. Continued

By David Lipfert Offoffoff.com

Among the Kurds of western Iran, the itinerant teachers of "Blackboards" literally carry their blackboards on their backs through the mountains where learning to read and write is secondary to staying alive.

Borders bring out the worst in people. They're man-made and arbitrary. But some people challenge them -- like the Kurds. Spread out over the mountainous parts of four countries, their very existence is a challenge to the governments that host them. Kurds don't believe in borders, but they can't ignore reality either.

It's just not possible to cross from one country into another to follow grazing fields or to link up with relatives. Not easily, at least. Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran aren't exactly the friendliest of neighbors. Chemical weapons are but one of the dangers. Rounds shot from helicopter patrols and ordinary land mines are no less lethal. Continued



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