‘Children of Heaven’ shows poverty through the eyes of Tehrani children

Andrew Perez

The country of Iran has been a timely topic of discussion, and even mentioning the country’s name seems to bring up certain political questions.

Yet, despite the swirling political issues, the best qualities of the human spirit can be found in the Iranian film “Bacheha-Ye Aseman,” or “Children of Heaven,” as it is known in the United States.

The qualities of familial love and loyalty in the face of poverty are prevalent in this 1997 film, which was the first Iranian film to be nominated for an Academy Award

“Children of Heaven” tells the story of a poor family in Tehran through the eyes of the children of the story, Ali and his sister Zahra.

One day, Ali loses Zahra’s shoes on his way home after getting them repaired.

The drama unfolds as the two children, knowing their parents cannot afford to replace them, search for the missing pair while they share a single pair of sneakers.

Writer and director Majid Majidi infuses this tale with neorealism, which portrays the essence of true life on the screen.

Neorealism rejects the classical Hollywood method of storytelling and chooses to comment on certain social and political aspects of the real world.

Majidi shot on location in his native Tehran and often used hidden cameras to capture the authentic feeling of the city.

He also employed many handheld cameras and placed emphasis on showing the children as actual children and not actors.

This realism is enhanced because this was the first film for Amir Farrokh Hashemian (Ali) and Bahare Seddiqi (Zahra); this gives their characters the look and feel of actual kids.

Film critic Roger Ebert praised the film with his highest rating of four stars.

He also commented on the realistic nature of the film, saying, “To see this movie is to be reminded of a time when the children in movies were children and not miniature stand-up comedians.”

The genuine feel of the movie, along with the delightful story of family love, makes for a cinematic triumph that anyone can appreciate.

“Children of Heaven” will be screened four times in the Connelly Cinema: Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 3:30 and 7 p.m. and Monday at 7 p.m. 

Admission is free for students with ID and $5 for all others.

Nasser Chour, from the communication department, will be the guest speaker at the Monday screening.

He will provide an introduction to the film and lead a discussion afterward.

For more information, please contact the communication department at x9-4750 on weekdays between 9a.m. and 5 p.m., or consult the CFS Web page: www.culturalfilms.villanova.edu.