Director: Samira Makhmalbaf
Direct from this year's Cannes Film Festival, where it was the co-winner of the Jury Prize, Blackboards is bold and provocative. The film opens with an almost surreal image of a group of male teachers crossing the mountainous paths of the remote Iranian-Kurdistan border region, carrying large blackboards on their backs. Wandering from village to village, in search of students, the sudden menacing sound of helicopters forces the men to run and seek refuge from an unseen enemy. Compelled to split up, the men must survive under extreme conditions. Tired and hungry they strive to return to the safety of their homes. Outstanding photography of the unforgiving terrain serves to reinforce the lengths these resilient men must go to realise their dreams. Full of memorable characters and suspenseful situations, the film builds to a impactful climax. Directed by 20-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf (The Apple, MIFF 1999) who co-wrote the film with her father, veteran Iranian director, Mohsen Makhmalbaf (Gabbeh and Salaam Cinema, both MIFF 1996), Blackboards is a challenging and rewarding film.