Pete Boggs’ articles on the Kurds (Solidarity 591 and 589) suggest it is time for a Kurdish film. Although director Samira Makhmalbaf is not Kurdish, her film Blackboards (Takhté siah) was shot in the Kurdish-populated mountainous border region of northern Iran and Iraq.
Released in 2000, the film features a group of itinerant teachers who, carrying their cumbersome blackboards on their backs, hope to find some village children to teach. It is hard, dangerous work and many villages are deserted as the inhabitants have taken flight due to the Iran-Iraq war. One of the teachers, Said, encounters a group of old men and helps them to locate their village; another teacher befriends a group of boys engaged in cross-border smuggling. In a hasty ceremony Said marries Halaleh, a widow with a child, the only woman with the old men. Eventually, they find a village although there is confusion about whether this is their home or just another ruinous product of the war.
They cross the border and Halaleh goes with them, Said however wants to stay — “this my land”, he says. A divorce is then arranged and Halaleh takes the blackboard with her. Gunfire echoes in the distance and the future for everyone looks uncertain.