It’s hard to dispute that Iranian filmmakers – most importantly the Makhmalbaf family – are leading the way with realist cinema. In Blackboards, Samira followed a group of Kurdish teachers made refugees by the chemical bombing of Halabcheh as they stumbled around the mountainous Iran/Iraq border trying to sell English lessons to a population whose children are mostly smugglers’ mules. Here she builds on her father’s work, Kandahar, which first visited post-war Afghanistan with a story of woman’s return from Canadian exile to save her suicidal sister.
Anyway. At Five in the Afternoon in fifty words-ish…
Makhmalbaf’s Afghanistan could not be more foreign or more bleak, yet her sympathetic portrayals – especially of men who pray at the sight of a woman’s face – ensure there’s no judgement. Instead, Nogreh’s going against her father to become an educated woman plays out naturally, like teen rebellion.
A masterful 10 out of 10.