Monday, December 24, 2007

Buddha collapsed out of shame

The 12 th edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala' will open today with a film from Iran ‘Buddha collapsed out of shame' directed by Hana Makhmalbaf, the nineteen year old younger daughter of the Iranian Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf.. 'Buddha collapsed out of shame' - which bagged the award for the best debutant director in Montreal festival and special jury award in the 55thSan Sebastian film festival. The 48th edition of the Thessaloniki Film Festival, which concluded in Greece last week, praised Hana Makhmalbaf ‘s first feature “Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame” with its “Woman and Equal Opportunities Award . It has also been screened many festivals including Toronto International Film Festival 2007.

The organisers of Tokyo Filmex Film Festival, who are planning to publish a book of photography on Tokyo city through the eyes of famous directors in coopration with Kodak, have invited Hana Makhmalbaf as the youngest director to take part in the project. During the festival, Fuji TV is also shooting a documantary on Hana Makhmalbaf . The title of the film comes from Hana’s father, Makhmalbaf.

According to Hana, Mohsen Makhmalbaf meant that “even a statue can be ashamed of witnessing all this violence and harshness happening to these innocent people and, therefore, collapse.” Hana says that “most of the film is shot under the remains of Buddha statutes, which were destroyed by Taliban in 2001, in Bamian of Afghanistan. I visited many schools in Bamian and its suburbs for my actors. I saw thousands of children and auditioned hundreds until I cast the few whom I felt best suited my story. I visited many schools in Bamian and its suburbs for my actors. I saw thousands of children and auditioned hundreds until I cast the few whom I felt best suited my story. Directing the children is hard but rewarding at the same time. It was hard because they weren’t familiar with cinema. In their city there has never been a film shot before. They have never even had a local TV station so they could get used to seeing their own image in a box. It was rewarding because to see all those different children with so much energy and beautiful innocent faces.”

The beauty and grief of present-day Afghanistan receives epic, poetic treatment from Hana Makhmalbaf, the youngest member of master director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. Set in Bamian, the actual town where the Taliban’s destruction of cultural treasures sickened the world, Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame is an exotic and frightening journey into the minds of the children who live in that deserted area – and children affected by violence everywhere.
Like many Iranian filmmakers, Hana chooses a little girl as her narrative engine. When we meet this extraordinary young girl, Baktay (Nikbakht Noruz), all she wants to do is to go to the school for girls that has opened up across the river. But she must overcome the Herculean obstacles to attend, starting with her family’s extreme poverty and her mother’s indifference. In one astounding sequence, she has to negotiate the purchase of the requisite pen and paper through a complex transaction involving stolen eggs. She must also traverse a no man’s land populated by a band of wild boys who delight in war games. She is “captured” by them going both ways – once as an American spy, then as a Taliban spy – and these scenes encapsulate Makhmalbaf’s thesis about how violent “liberation” refracts in a child’s mind.
This 81 minutes film feels extremely authentic, largely due to the stripped-down neo-realist style of the Baf family’s projects and the fact that they cast local non-professional actors for all the roles. But this is not a documentary. The film artfully reveals all sorts of storyline surprises and political critiques despite its simple exterior. The little girl is almost too cute for words, evoking gushes of compassion toward her abundant trials.
The film is produced by Maysam Makhmalbaf for Makhmalbaf Film House/ Wild Bunch , Cinematographer :Ostad Ali ,Screenplay :Marziyeh Meshkini ,Editor: Mastaneh Mohajer ,Sound: Hossein Mahdavi Music: Tolib Khan Shahidi .The cast including Nikbakht Noruz, Abdolali Hoseinali, Abbas Alijome.
Hana Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran. She has been studying cinema at her family’s Makhmalbaf Film School since she left elementary school in the second grade. She was a script supervisor and still photographer on several of her family’s films before she directed her first short, The Day My Aunt Was Ill (97). “The Day My Aunt Was Ill”, was presented at the Locarno Festival in 1997, when Hana was only 9. At the age of 14, she made the documentary called Joy of Madness about her sister Samira Makhmalbaf directing At Five in the Afternoon . At the age 15, Hana published her first book of poems entitled “Visa for One Moment”.. Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame is her first feature film..

Nikbakht Noruz in ‘Buddha collapsed out of shame'

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