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Iran, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Contemporary World Cinema )

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf


According to many observers (your humble servant and Werner Herzog amongst them), cinema is alive and well in two countries: China and Iran. Mohsen Makhmalbaf's Gabbeh is incontrovertible proof of this claim and positions him beside countryman Abbas Kiarostani, at the frontline of world cinema Makhmalbaf's off-the-wall Once Upon a Time Onema screened at MIFF in 1993 and his last film, the very different but equally mesmerising Salaam Cinema, can be found elsewhere in this year's programme. Cabbed was amongst the three or four critical discoveries of Cannes this year, and he already has another in the can. This maybe his best to date, but either way, It's one of the most magical films we've seen in eons.

The title refers to both the central character, a tribal girl, and a rare type of hand-woven carpet, said to be the most original of its kind, a quality that could also be attributed to the girl. An old woman holds the secret of weaving the Gabbeh. her creative designs inspired by the life, history and legends of the nomads Gabbeh, the girl, has been thwarted in love due to family commitments, her would-be husband nothing more than a fleeting silhouette of a lone horseman on the horizon, an image curiously reflected in a rug the old woman is weaving. The plot manages to remain simple yet spellbinding and resonant.

Like the carpet for which it is named and in which its story is captured, Gabbeh is a ravish-ingly beautiful, hand-crafted artifact from another world (TB)

See also...


... ... Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, Mohsen Makhmalbaf s Salaam Cinema is the Iran director/activist's typically offbeat tribute to a century of cinema. Such is the popularity ... More »


Khorshid is a ten year old blind boy who lives alone with his mother. He uses his exceptional hearing to bring extra cash into a needy household that subsists on his mother's fishing. Khorshid ... More »


Moshen Makhmalbaf's feature films have long followed the Iranian tradition of blurring the line between fact and fiction. His 2001 film, Kandahar, documented one woman's heartbreaking journey through ... More »


Once Upon a Time, Cinema almost defies description, as the complexity and imagi­nation director Makhmalbaf brings to it pro­duces a dazzling visual roilercoaster, which sweeps the viewer ... More »


The lyrical and spare storytelling that Makhmalbaf applied in Gabbeh (MIFF 1996) is utilised again to tell another personal story, this time it is the director's own, told from two differ­ent ... More »


Filmed with the piercing intensity of a parable, Iranian helmer Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry follows a desperate man on the verge of suicide who seeks someone willing to bury him discreetly ... More »

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