Blackboards

This second feature by Samira Makhmalbaf (2000, 85 min.), made before she turned 20, shares many of the qualities found in other productions by Makhmalbaf Film House (The Day I Became a Woman, Kandahar) by boldly mixing documentary elements with allegory and fantasy in a way that's both fascinating and disconcerting. Set in the rocky wilds of Kurdistan in northern Iran near the Iraqi border, the plot shuttles between a group of teachers who look for pupils while carrying blackboards on their backs, some boy smugglers, and a group of old men searching for their homes. The scenery is beautiful, and the feeling for community recalls not only Makhmalbaf's debut feature, The Apple, but also, oddly enough, John Ford's Wagon Master. In Farsi with subtitles.

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