Time For Drunken Horses (A)
"A Time for Drunken Horses" brings to llife news stories of Kurds in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, whose lands are protected by a no-fly zone the U.S. enforces. Why would anyone feel threatened by these isolated, desperately poor people? Three young Kurds - Ameneh, a teenager, Ayoub, her brother of about 12, and Madi, their 15-year-old brother, a dwarf whose fiercely sweet face surmounts a tiny, twisted body - live with their Iranian father, a smuggler who takes goods into Iraq by mule.
The children work in nearby every day, wrapping glasses for export, staggering under heavy loads in the marketplace. Their hand-to-mouth existence dispels easy theories about child labor; they work to eat and to survive. In an emotionally charged scene, Ayoub and Ameneh sit close on their ride home in the back of a truck, helping hold little Madi. Ayoub caresses his hair as Ameneh gently kisses him. They love their crippled brother, who needs medicine injections an and an operation, but probably won't survive the year, even if he gets the operation. He never speaks.
The truck is stopped; guards impound it. The siblings struggle through snow, now separated from their father, their existence even more desperate, and get involved with mule-trains smuggling truck tires to Iraq over the mountains, along passes are so cold that the mules drink water laced with alcohol - thus the title. Ameneh agrees to marry into a Kurdish family from across the mountains, if they will pay for Madi's operation.
The movie is spare and heartbreaking, and won the 2000 Camera d'Or at Cannes. It shows us lives on the margin, its larger message subtle. Creative Iranian cinema makes films about children so politics seem beside the point, but they aren't. The filmmaker argues for ethnic minorities' rights in Iran and everywhere. His documentary style leaves little doubt that what we see here actually happens. Mules lashed to two huge truck tires make us believe.
Madi (Mehdi Ekhtiar-Dini) is obviously badly malformed; in a touching shot, his eyes peer apprehensively from beneath his coat's big hood as he rides in a mule's saddlebag. Ameneh (Ameneh Ekhtiar-Dini) has the same last name, and is probably his sister. Generally, "villagers play themselves." The Kurds are still stateless, but that's just words when we see little Madi peering out of a saddle bag to see what he can expect.
Ayoub Ahmadi, Ameneh Ekhtiar-Dini, Mehdi Ekhtiar-Dini, Rojin Younessi
Kurdish children in Iran struggle for survival
war and peace
Kurdish and Farsi with English Subtitles Reviewer's Name:
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