Search - Blackboards on DVD

Actors: Said Mohamadi, Behnaz Jafari, Bahman Ghobadi, Mohamad Karim Rahmati, Rafat Moradi
Director: Samira Makhmalbaf
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
NR     2004     1hr 25min

A group of male teachers crossesma the mountainous paths of the remote Iranian Kurdistan region. They wander from village to village in search of students, carrying large blackboards on their backs, sometimes using them a...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Said Mohamadi, Behnaz Jafari, Bahman Ghobadi, Mohamad Karim Rahmati, Rafat Moradi
Director: Samira Makhmalbaf
Creators: Samira Makhmalbaf, Abbas Saghazsaz, Marco Mueller, Mohamad Ahmadi, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Zaheer Qureshi
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Military & War
Studio: Wellspring Media
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/17/2004
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 25min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

A powerful film, a participatory audience
Anahita New | 02/08/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a very artistic piece. Not a traditional film with beginning, end and simple plot. It is a weaving of moments, a soundtrack which gives you the chance to experience situations through your senses, and to understand WITHOUT words.I sat through this film, not understanding, and feeling that I almost didn't like it. It didn't try to convince me.It IS a powerful cinematic portrayal of hardship among kurds, a portrayal of minorities without representation in any national majority.I understood that later, slowly, as it unfolded in my head. I can't truly describe it. You must find out for yourself the importance of a film like this."
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 09/12/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a film by a very young, Iranian filmmaker, Samira Makhmalbaf, who was nineteen years old at the time that she filmed it. She comes from an Iranian family steeped in the filmmaking tradition, as her father, Mosen Makhmalbaf, was a director. Her mother used to act in her husband's films, as did Samira, as a child. In fact, her father was the producer, as well as the co-screenwriter and editor, for this film.

This film, which received the 2000 Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, takes place in the Kurdistan region of Iran and was filmed in Kurdish. None of the performers are professional actors, except for Behnaz Jafari, who is a noted Iranian stage and film actress and plays the only female role in the film. Local village people were used for the other roles, except for the role of one of the teachers, which was played by a Kurdish filmmaker. The film was shot on location in the rugged mountainous terrain in the Kurdistan region of Iran, near the Iranian/Iraqi border.

The film tells the story of the poor people of Kurdistan, which is a region always struggling with problems caused by war. The film first centers on a band of itinerant Iranian school teachers who struggle to bring a modicum of education to the children of this war torn region. They travel with large blackboards on their backs and traipse up and down the steep mountain side, as poor as those whom they seek to teach. Their blackboards serve many functions, as the viewer will soon discover. Early on in the film, two teachers splinter off from the main group. The film proceeds to follow these two teachers on their respective journeys, where they will discover that education cannot find its niche in a land where the young need to work to survive, and adults simply want to return to their homeland to die.

One of the teachers encounters a group of boys who are mules for some contraband that they are paid to carry over the border on their backs. The other teacher encounters a group of Kurds who are seeking to return to their war torn homeland, Halabcheh, which is just over the Iraqi border. It is the actual site where Kurds had been subjected to the chemical warfare of the Iraqi regime. During the war between Iraq and Iran in the nineteen eighties, many Iraqi Kurds took refuge in Iran to escape chemical warfare. Both the children and the wandering Kurds, together with the teachers, face dangers and hardships along their way that most of those who view this film can only imagine.

This film is a visual eye-opener, a stark and shocking depiction of insular lives lived quite primitively. The only intrusion of the outside, modern world into the lives of these people is in the guise of sophisticated weaponry. This is an ambitious film that suffers from some lack of cohesion. It is, however, thematically complex, and its young director holds much promise. This is a film that those with an interest in other cultures will enjoy. If not, deduct one star from my rating."
Mediocre story
vanhubris | Verona Beach, NY | 10/20/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I'm not overly familiar with Iranian movies--but on a scale of 1 to 5--I would put "Children of Heaven" as an easy 5--"The Cow" and "Leila" as 4's--and "Blackboards"-at best a "3"-
the story starts in an intersting manner with several teachers with blackboards on their backs setting out to find students--but from there on it gradually gives way to a lot of nothing--nomadic wandering for the Iraqi border-but with no agenda--other than getting an old man to urinate and his daughter married--so he can die in peace
The acting is ok--and the "trek" is of some interest--but nothing really happens. The main character marrys, divorces and loses his blackboard-then stays in Iran while his fellow travelers cross the border
Far from being a "bad" movie--it is also far from being a "good" movie--I would recommend the other movies I mentioned-particularly "Children of Heaven" before this exercise in the mundane or "Leila"--though "The Cow"may be a little obscure to be of interest to the typical American film fan!"
Trudging For Godot
John R. Nielsen | Jackson, Mississippi | 08/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I was immediately struck by images of Samuel Beckett plays while watching this film. Those who criticize its slow pace and long periods of inaction are missing quite a bit of artistry. The editing is first-rate, especially near the end when Iranian soldiers open fire in two different scenes.

Like Beckett, Ms. Makhmalbaf focuses upon the plight of the poverty-stricken, whose lives spin in circles of nothingness. While "Godot" stayed underneath a tree, "Blackboards" moves along at a resigned pace. I find it a masterful piece of work, no matter what the director's age. Her use of Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi and his actor friend Said Mohammed as two of the teachers was a wise choice.

Fellow Americans who expect fast action and glib speech will not like this film. It is at once realistic and symbolistic. A coworker couldn't get through the first ten minutes, but then again he has different tastes than I."