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Blackboards

 NR (Not Rated)   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 38.99
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Let your heart break May 28 2004
Format:DVD
This is the most powerful film I've ever seen. It's absolutely heartbreaking. Think you know something of the world we live in? Watch this and open yourself up to the world as it exists for many of its inhabitants. I don't see how it's possible to watch this and not be changed from the inside out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful film, a participatory audience Feb. 7 2004
Format:DVD
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful film, a participatory audience Feb. 7 2004
By Anahita New - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH...THE TOUGH GET GOING... Sept. 11 2005
By Lawyeraau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trudging For Godot Aug. 6 2006
By John R. Nielsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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.
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 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You Cant Hold Us Down Dec 23 2007
By S.A.I - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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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