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Blackboards (2000)

Said Mohamadi , Behnaz Jafari , Samira Makhmalbaf  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Said Mohamadi, Behnaz Jafari, Bahman Ghobadi, Mohamad Karim Rahmati, Rafat Moradi
  • Directors: Samira Makhmalbaf
  • Format: Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Persian (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Wellspring Media
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2004
  • Run Time: 85 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000YTOZI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,567 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Blackboards" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Making-of documentary
  • Production notes
  • Filmographies

Editorial Reviews

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 as shelter, camouflage and as shields for gunfire. One teacher ventures away from the group and meets up with a group of young boys who are carrying contraband across the border. Another teacher comes upon a group of old refugees who want to return to their village in Kurdistan, which was chemically attacked by the Iraqis. The teachers must also face other hardships and obstacles along the way, including unseen enemy helicopters and gunfire. Samira Makhmalbaf's award-winning film is a visually powerful and compelling depiction of a group of people who must battle for survival every day of their lives.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful film, a participatory audience February 7, 2004
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.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH...THE TOUGH GET GOING... September 11, 2005
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trudging For Godot August 6, 2006
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The world we don't see on CNN May 27, 2006
By Ashwin
The most awesome aspect of this movie is its locations & shooting. Blackboards is a slow moving story - a tale that contrasts the hardships of life on the move in the remote outposts of Kurdish Iraq with the deep intent of two human beings. The story has two twin themes running in parallel, both involving nomadic teachers scouting for students who can in turn pay the teachers for their next meal. One teacher joins a bunch of young illiterate boys who work in cross border smuggling outfits for large unseen mafia bosses, while the other joins a group of migrating societal rejects who aim to get back to their land and flee the bombing of Saddam. The movie is extremely slow and laborious in setting the context & you feel much a part of the situation & begin to empathise with the key characters in the movie. And therein lies the charm of this movie - in exposing our television conditioned minds to aspects of life we barely knew existed. Worth a watch, only if slow and offbeat films is your genre of interest.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Cant Hold Us Down December 23, 2007
By S.A.I
Blackboards is movie about courage and the persistence of the human spirit. The movie is basically about nomadic teachers who roam the Iranian Kurdistan area with blackboards attached to their backs looking for children to teach in exchange for a pittance. I have never in my life seen such dedication to educate. They climb wild, unforgiving mountains and brave merciless fire from border soldiers rifles using their blackboards as shields.

Two of these teachers are primarily focused on. They part at a junction and one goes up the craggy mountain and runs into desperate young boys who risk their lives at the border smuggling stolen goods and the other runs into a bunch of misplaced Kurdish nomads trying to find their way home and somehow, absurdly marries a wife. They both try to to teach unwilling pupils; it's almost perversely comical to watch.

The movie is realistically shot. You feel like you are in the zone and a major highlight is when one of the teachers pretends to read a letter in a language foreign to him to a father desperate for news.

However, the conclusion is empty. I kind of felt sorry for the director and myself. It would be difficult to hold together and conclude a story with such important and varied themes. It's worth watching to understand what it is like to be an Iranian Kurd and why it is impossible to hold the human spirit down.
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