Combustible Celluloid
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With: Aida Mohammadkhani, Mohsen Kafili, Fereshteh Sadre Orafaiy, Hamidreza Tahery
Written by: Abbas Kiarostami
Directed by: Jafar Panahi
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Language: Farsi, with English subtitles
Running Time: 85
Date: 05/01/1995

The White Balloon (1995)

4 Stars (out of 4)

The Goldfish Rush

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This debut feature by the talented Jafar Panahi was one of the first Iranian features to receive distribution in the United States, and it's already a kind of classic. The entire film unfolds in something close to real time as seven year-old Razieh (Aida Mohammadkhani) attempts to buy a nice goldfish -- a symbol for life -- for that day's New Year's celebration. She loses her money, twice, and must interact with several different "characters" over the course of the day. It works as a neo-realist film, and also as a simple children's story, but it's a great deal richer than both. Abbas Kiarostami, Panahi's mentor, wrote the screenplay, and his usual rhythms and ideas tend to come through, even though Panahi gives the film a unique feel. The film has yet to be released on DVD in the United States, but import versions are available, as is the old VHS tape.

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