Director Jafar Panahi / 1995 / Iran

Much to everyone's surprise, fundamentalist hard-line Iran has been pioving that humanist cinema is alive and thriving for at least a decade now To established names like Kiarostami, Makmalbaf, Bani' etemad and Foruzesh we can now add Jafar Panahi. winner of last year's Best First Film Award at Cannes lor this masterpiece of simple yet enthralling cinematic story-telling Magical, charming but never cutesy. The White Balloon is destined to delight audiences everywhere. The plot is slight seven-year-old Razieh wants to buy a goldfish in the bazaar. but when she gets to the shop she discovers she has lost her money However, the results are deftly suspenseful. Will Razieh escape the wiles of the snake-charmer? Will she find her money again? How will she rescue the banknote once she has discovers it beyond her reach? Is the soldier who oilers to help trustworthy or dangerous? And will we ever discover The White Balloon of the title and its significance? We sit on the edges of our sears as it watching a Hitchcock masterpiece.

Panahi is aided by a magnificent script from one of the world's undisputed great film makers Abbas Kiarostami. The master director of such film as Where Is the Friends Home? and Through The Olive Trees (MIFF 1995) Kiarostami's reputation is for attention to the telling details and moral dilemmas of everyday life, and for coaxing outstanding performances from non-professional actors. The While Balloon extends his minimalist achievement and little Aida Mohammadkhani has won one award after another for her remarkable realisation of Razieh. (CB)

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