A Time For Drunken Horses

An Iranian film about poor children trying to survive in the face of unimaginable adversity? You may think you've seen it before, but this wrenching first feature by Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi is truly in a class by itself. Not only was it filmed entirely in remote Iranian Kurdistan, but it features a cast of non-professional Kurdish actors and is...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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An Iranian film about poor children trying to survive in the face of unimaginable adversity? You may think you've seen it before, but this wrenching first feature by Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi is truly in a class by itself. Not only was it filmed entirely

in remote Iranian Kurdistan, but it features a cast of non-professional Kurdish actors and is one of the first films shot in the Kurdish language. And while it's not so much concerned with the ongoing struggle of Kurds in general, the film highlights a very real problem facing the impoverished

people who make their home along the Iran-Iraq border: smuggling. Life in the Iranian mountain village of Sardab is already desperate for Ayoub (Ayoub Ahmadi) and his family. His mother died giving birth to the youngest of Ayoub's four siblings, his oldest brother Madi (Mehdi Ekhtiar-Dini) suffers

from a degenerative disease that has stunted his growth and threatens his life, and Ayoub and his sister Amaneh (Ameneh Ekhtiar-Dini) must travel long distances each day to earn money doing odd jobs in a far-off marketplace. Then it gets harder: Ayoub's father, who supported his family by

smuggling goods into Iraq, is killed by one of the many land mines strewn along the border, and the doctor tells Ayoub that unless Madi has an expensive operation within a month, he'll die. Now the head of the family, Ayoub has no choice but to convince his uncle to get him a spot on the next

smuggling caravan and make the crossing into Iraq himself, a journey so cold and dangerous that the mules must be plied with alcohol in order to get them to move. As grim as it sounds, the film is tremendously gripping — the mountain crossings are particularly exciting — and ultimately

heartbreaking. And for all its harsh realism, Ghobadi manages to end the film with a small, magical grace note.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: An Iranian film about poor children trying to survive in the face of unimaginable adversity? You may think you've seen it before, but this wrenching first feature by Kurdish director Bahman Ghobadi is truly in a class by itself. Not only was it filmed enti… (more)

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