Abbas Kiarostami (Iran, 1990)
(Mashq-e Shab). "Only Kiarostami could turn a documentary about homework into a delightful, absorbing, and stirring portrait of the 'human condition.' The style is simplicity itself: the film consists of a series of interviews with several little boys (and, occasionally, with their parents) about the Iranian school system and its methods of assigning homework. Beleaguered by their rigorous workload, the boys complain of adults' insensitivity and rigidity, or parents who will not or cannot help them because of illiteracy or poverty. Though the boys' woe is palpable and rending, the film closes with a moment of soaring Kiarostamian grace: a boy reciting a poem he loves from memory as his friend looks on. 'Homework does not follow the rules. One learns the rules but reaches a moment when one has to throw them away and approach the whole concept of filmmaking with one's heart and feelings' (Kiarostami)."
—James Quandt, Cinematheque Ontario
• Written by Kiarostami. Photographed by Iraj Safavi. (89 mins, In Farsi with English electronic subtitles, Color, 16mm, From Kanoon)