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THE AFGHAN ALPHABET

Iran, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Documentaries)

Director: Mohsen Makhmalbaf

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 war-ravaged Afghanistan. For his latest work, Makhmalbaf has stripped away any artifce and produced a short feature documentary following the trails of Afghan refugee children who live in villages on the border between Iran and Afghanistan.

Shot under extreme conditions, during the US Governments bombardment of the area, Makhmalbaf examines the effect on the children's schooling. Using a digital camera, he has fashioned a lyrical work that captures a number of unexpected moments; he witnesses school classes that are improvised in the open air for children starved of knowledge, but denied 'official' learning because they do not have the correct paperwork; while filming a group of young girls studying in a UNICEF class, the director focuses on one particular girl who, although no longer under Taliban rule, refuses to remove her burqa for fear of reprisals. A vital work from one of Iran's pre-eminent directors.

See also...

ONCE UPON A TIME, CINEMA

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 SILENCE

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 »

GABBEH

... ... A ... ... ... 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 ... More »

SALAAM CINEMA

... ... 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 »

A MOMENT OF INNOCENCE

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 »

AND ALONG CAME A SPIDER

21 women were murdered in a single year in the Iranian holy city of Mashad. Strangled, their bodies were cocooned in their long, black chadors, knotted at both ends and dumped beside roads or in ... More »

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