aka PANJ e ASR

Year: 2003
UK: Artificial Eye Film Company
Cast: Agheleh Rezaie, Abdolgani Yousefrazi, Razi Mohebi, Marzieh Amiri
Director: Samira Makhmalbaf
Countries: Iran / France
Language: Farsi (English subtitles)
UK: 106 mins
UK Certificate: U contains one scene of very mild war violence
UK Release Date: 16 April


The setting is Afghanistan, just after the fall of the Taliban. Noqreh, an intelligent, strong woman in her twenties, lives with her father and her sister-in-law in ruined buildings on the outskirts of Kabul. Her sister-in-law has a little baby, whose father -Noqreh's brother- has gone missing some time ago.

Noqreh's father is very religious and takes her to a Koran reading school for girls, but as soon as he leaves she pulls up her burqa and puts on elegant shoes, to go to a secular girls' school. The school has just been open for two months.

At school, the teacher asks the girls about what they aspire to become, and whereas most girls want to be doctors and engineers, Noqreh and a few others like the idea of the possibility of becoming the President of Afghanistan.

The teacher is ready to encourage their ambition and starts to organise school elections. The girls debate about the possibility of a female becoming President; some oppose the notion but Noqreh and two other girls defend themselves. She is helped in her campaign by a young poet. He is one of the refugees who fled from the borders of Afghanistan to Kabul.

Noqreh offers the ruins where she lives as a home to the refugees, but her father does not approve of their lifestyle. He decides to find a new place to stay, taking Noqreh, her sister in law and little nephew with him. They move from refuge to refuge and finally settle in the bombed out Parliament building. There is hardly any water and the baby falls ill.

Noqreh's father learns that his son has died and he decides to leave Kabul for good, as it is "reigned by blasphemy". In search of a holier place, he takes his family into the desert, where the baby dies. They meet a very old man who claims God himself has died, but the father refuses to believe this. As he buries his grandson his faith is still strong, but it is uncertain how the family will survive.