Sunday, 4 July 2010


Directed by Hana Makhmalbaf, the 19-year-old daughter of auteur Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Buddha Collapsed Out Of Shame tells the story of Bahtai, a young girl whose dream is simply to go to school. Spurred on by the taunts of her neighbour, she sets out to get herself a notepad and pencil to equip herself for an impromptu trip to the local school. Though unsuccessful in procuring the correct items, she steals her mum’s lipstick to write with and heads out to the school. En route, she is bullied by a group of boys who are pretending to be the Taliban, an experience which distresses her greatly. When she finally gets there, she finds that her dream could never be as good as she had imagined in the current circumstances, and a further encounter with the Taliban boys appears to push her to her limits.

The title makes reference to the Taliban’s explosion of the Buddha statues in Bamyan, and we see first-hand footage of the shocking incident before the first credit is up. Though never sensationalist or sentimental, the film is deeply upsetting for its portrayal of oppression under Taliban rule, and the adults’ lack of presence serves to highlight the issues. Bahtai is portrayed consistently as a child – Makhmalbaf never pretends that she suddenly has the capacity to understand the socio-political gravity of her journey – and it is this that gives the film its strength, particularly as nobody else in the film treats her with appropriate consideration. An important film.

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