Bashu, the Little Stranger

Bashu, Gharibehyeh Koochak

IRAN / 1985 / Persian, Gilaki, Arabic / Color / Digital File (Original: 35mm) / 120 min

Director, Writer, Editing: Bahram Beizai
Photography: Firooz Malekzadeh
Production Design: Bahram Beizai, Iraj Raminfar
Costume: Bahram Beizai, Iraj Raminfar
Cast: Susan Taslimi, Parviz Poorhosseini, Adnan Afravian
Producer: Ali Reza Zarrin
Production Company, Source: Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children & Young Adults (Kanoon)

The fictional story of 10-year-old Bashu fleeing from the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War and arriving at a small village on the Caspian Sea where they do not speak his language. Having lived his whole life in the Arabic-speaking Khuzestan Province in southwestern Iran, he flees on a rickety truck up to Iran’s northern provinces after the surprise attack by Iraq, arriving at a town in Gilan Province. Ney, working in the fields with her children while she waits for her husband who has left to find work, is shocked by the sudden appearance of this boy who speaks a different language, but takes him in and cares for him nonetheless. Shedding light on issues around minority languages, the symbolic depiction of Ney and Bashu is characteristic of this educational film. Beizai’s work about embracing the other rather than clinging to one’s national pride in wartime is his crowning achievement as a filmmaker. Completed in 1985, the movie could not be shown until the war’s conclusion in 1989.

Water, Wind, Dust

Ab, Bad, Khak

IRAN / 1989 / Persian / Color / Digital File (Original: 35mm) / 70 min

Director, Scriptwriter: Amir Naderi
Photography: Reza Pakzad
Cast: Majid Niroumand
Production Company, Source: Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting

A town ravaged by draught forced an abrupt homecoming for a boy who had left to find work. When he returns, all the wells have dried up, all life is teetering on the edge, and the town is turning into one large desert; his family and everyone else have already moved away. The boy is thus left to wander in search of his family amidst the unremitting sand storms. In the sandy air he encounters the cries of an abandoned baby, the songs lifting the spirits of displaced peoples he meets along the way, and the growls of stray dogs eating dead livestock. This variation on the same director’s Jostoju-ye dovvom (Second Search, 1981), which was filmed on location in a town destroyed during the Iran-Iraq War and which also takes as its theme a young male protagonist searching for his family, is a masterwork of stylish cinematic beauty about human perseverance and the struggle for sustenance amidst merciless conditions.