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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: #330,667 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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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre story October 19, 2005
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!
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