Saturday, October 06, 2007

"Buddha Collapsed out of Shame"

Buddha Collapsed out of Shame is a recently released movie.

Buddha Collapsed is set in Bamian, a small historic town in Afganistan ravaged by the Taliban's bloody rule. The violence has led to a complete destruction of precious historical and cultural relics, including the dynamiting of two priceless Buddha statues each over 100 feet tall that were carved into the Bamian cliffs 2,000 years ago. The tragic emptiness of the cliff openings' void where the statues used to preside serves as a backdrop for the most climactic and violent scenes of the film.

The story is a reflection of war and the seemingly unbreakable cycle of violence in children. Baktay (Nikbakht Noruz)—the main character, is a little girl in Bamian, who is obstinately trying to go to a recently opened girls' school across the river. In the process, she has to overcome her own family's poverty, her mother's indifference, and finally face ruthless boys who take her as a victim when playing a war game. The little girl's long and arduous journey provides numerous cultural references to modern day Afghanistan, and its attempt to return to normalcy following the Taliban's rule; including poverty, illiteracy, the need for reconciliation and reintegration in society.

This description is from Epoch Times. ( independent voice in print and on the web. We report news responsibly and truthfully so that readers can improve their own lives and increase their understanding and respect for their neighbors next door and around the globe....a privately held news media New York, but our network of local reporters throughout the world uncovers stories that are authentically local, yet also globally relevant.)

This film was produced by a second-generation Iranian film-maker, a young woman named Hana Makhmalbaf.

Hana Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran. She has been studying cinema at her family’s Makhmalbaf Film School since she left elementary school in the second grade. She was a script supervisor and still photographer on several of her family’s films before she directed her first short, The Day My Aunt Was Ill (97). She then directed a documentary called Joy of Madness (03) about her sister Samira Makhmalbaf directing At Five in the Afternoon (03). She published a book of poetry, Visa for One Moment, in 2003. Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame (07) is her first feature film.

She is from Tehran, Iran.

This motion picture is but a small token of the cultural richness of Iran, the next country the President of the United States contemplates bombing. In the same way that the Taliban systematically destroyed irreplaceable cultural treasures in Afghanistan (topic of this movie) we are taking part in the obscene destruction of Iraq's historic artifacts. No, we aren't doing it personally, but the rape of Iraq's historic treasures is being perpetrated under our aegis. If plans to strike Iran materialize, there is no reason to believe Iran will not be subjected to similar cultural abuse.

Who can tell? This child prodigy or some of her family could become "collateral damage."
Oh, well...if that happens someone else can make the movie about America's pre-emptive strikes.

These notes are from A Toronto Filmgoer's Diary, Day 3 after the film was shown at the Toronto Film Festival.

The first film here that I genuinely like is The Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame, pictured above. Like all of the films from the Makhmalbaf family (headed by father Mohsen, the renowned Iranian director who runs a film school in which, unless I am mistaken, all of the pupils are his own family members), this slice-of-life story set in Afghanistan uses non-professional actors, mostly children. The title refers to the giant statue of Buddha that was destroyed by the Taliban. In a village nearby, where people live in caves hewn out of what looks like an endless expanse of rock, a little girl wants to go to school like her neighbor. The biggest obstacles are getting money to buy a pen and notebook, and a group of local boys who enjoy playing that they are Taliban warriors – not good news when they catch her with a substitute pen, a lipstick stolen from her mother. As her father did in Kandahar, this youngest Makhmalbaf captures both the gorgeously bleak landscapes of this region while capturing our hearts for a little while with a small human story.

Remember Pakistan, our ally? That model of democracy?
Here's a link reflecting on how historic cultural icons fare in that country.

A Sequel to Bamiyan…

Most of you would remember the senseless destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by Taliban from a few years ago.

Some days go, I had alerted readers to another attack on Buddha statues - this time in Pakistan - which most media channels (including the revered BBC) chose to downplay.
Two days ago, the Islamic zealots returned to
complete their unfinished business.

(More at the link.)

Remember now, the Taliban, Al Qaeda and our latest homeboys in Iraq are not Shi'ia but Sunni. Not to put too fine a point on it, I have yet to meet an average American casually who understands the difference, much less can explain that difference in clear terms.

Iran is not Sunni, but Shi'ia. Dropping bombs into Iran is a good way to convert a largely sympathetic population of everyday people into USA-hating zealots.

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