Blackboards (Takhte Siah) review

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The youngest film-maker to win the Cannes Grand Prix Du Jury, 20-year-old Samira Makhmalbaf has emerged as a leading light of the Iranian New Wave. Co-scripted with her father (director Mohsen), Blackboards follows two itinerant teachers looking for pupils in the mountains between Iran and Iraq.

Reeboir (Bahman Ghobadi) joins a whole caravan of children carrying contraband across the border, while Saïd (Saïd Mohamadi) encounters some elderly refugees looking for a way back into Iraq. Neither group has much interest in the teachers' services, so the blackboards they carry end up being used as stretchers, splints or as a dowry in Said's marriage to Halalheh (Behnaz Jafari).

Packed with incident and authentic detail, Blackboards provides a rare insight into life among some of the poorest people on Earth. Poignant and powerful, it's a fitting testament to their courage and resilience.

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The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, New Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Jack Shepherd. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.