The White Balloon (U)
Director: Jafar Panahi
Starring: Aida Mohammadkhani, Mohsen Kalifi, Feresh Sadr Orfani
Iran, 1995, 1 hour 22 minutes, Farsi with subtitles
Taking place in 'real time' this tale of a young girl's first journey alone into the fierce bustle of the market-lined streets of Tehran is a gripping film of audacious subtlety and simplicity. Gap-toothed sweet Razieh has sets her heart on getting a ‘chubby’ goldfish for New Year so sets off with her mother's last 500 toman. Along the way, she encounters a hitherto 'forbidden' world of snake charmers, irate shopkeepers, and a young Afghan boy with a white balloon. Panahi's close-up, point-of-view of camera work absorbs us so entirely in his heroine's delicate, enquiring world that it’s impossible to avoid getting swept along. Widely acclaimed as one of the great films about children, this extraordinary debut feature heralded the arrival of Jafar Panahi, one of the finest directors of Iranian neo-realism who is sadly now under house arrest in Iran banned from filmmaking.
"A masterpiece about a little girl who won't take no for an answer. Utterly believable, and sometimes funny. One of the most honest films ever made" Mark Cousins
Winner Palme d’Or Cannes Film Festival 1995