Film - Feature | October 6 | 5:30-7 p.m. | Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
The starkly desolate mountains of Kurdish Iran serve as backdrop for Samira Makhmalbafs 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 Guardians 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 Fords eye. There is something distinctively surreal and almost ludic about Makhmalbafs 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.
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