Blackboards

Film - Feature | October 6 | 5:30-7 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 BAMPFA

 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

The starkly desolate mountains of Kurdish Iran serve as backdrop for Samira Makhmalbaf’s second feature, which follows a group of itinerant teachers, heavy blackboards on their backs, trudging through the landscape in search of pupils. Education seems like a dream to those they meet, however, who think blackboards are better used as a gurney for a sick man, or as shields from gunfire. Makhmalbaf punctures documentary-like observational footage with startling, almost hallucinogenic moments (“almost like an art installation in the desert,” as The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw wrote). The result is both a realist portrait of nomadic Kurdish culture and an absurdist, Beckett-like allegory, all set in a landscape that would turn even John Ford’s eye. “There is something distinctively surreal and almost ludic about Makhmalbaf’s vision that envelops its elements of pathos and political anger in a sheen of mystery and enigma,” Bradshaw noted. “The poetry and tenderness of her film are compelling.”

 CA, bampfapress@berkeley.edu, 5106420808