Sunday, August 10, 2008

Buda Az Sharm Foru Rikht (Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame aka Le Cahier)

This movie by 19 years-old Iranian Hana Makhmalbaf is not easy to watch as tells a hard to digest story even when most of what you see are kids playing. The twist is that when the kids’ play they are playing “adult games”.

The movie begins and ends with the 2001 newsreel image of the Taliban blowing up the gigantic statues of the Buddha in Bamyan and in between presents a day in the life of a girl living in an Afghan village still littered with the rubble from the explosion. The story follows 6 years-old Bakay that suddenly feels the need to go to school and you will follow her doing first tasks to obtain a notebook and pencil, then facing an all male young boys that are ‘playing’ to be the Talibans fighting the Americans and as she’s able to escape the gang she will face more situations when she finally finds a school.

Definitively not an easy to watch story in a not easy to watch movie, which makes it truly unusual as is a deeply affecting but wholly unaffected picture, direct, truthful and unsentimental, and Nikbakht Noruz makes an unforgettable impression as the brave Baktay; but all the kids have quite good performances as they do behave like kids and not like non-actors performing.

As a movie is not a masterpiece as looks and feels quite average, but this is not a movie to watch for tech specs, you watch this movie for the unusual way to tell a story that could touch you deeply as while giving hope, it really presents women real-life situations that not many in the world like to talk about and less to watch it.

The movie has many accolades and honors in Europe and Asia awards and festivals, including winning the Crystal Bear and the Special Peace Award at the 2008 Berlinale.

I really do not know who the natural target for this movie could be, as from the cinematic point-of-view is not an outstanding or arty movie and how it tells the story is quite disturbing but highly effective. Then this movie could be suited for those that enjoy “ideas” cinema (and/or contemporary Iranian cinema), as definitively has a strong and disturbing message about what many try to ignore about women in contemporary history.


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