The Films of Samira Makhmalbaf


Samira Makhmalbaf (Persian: سمیرا مخملباف, UniPers: Samirâ Maxmalbâf) (born February 15, 1980, Tehran) is an internationally acclaimed Iranian filmmaker and script writer. We’ll be screening a selection of her works for three Saturdays at 5pm sharp. All films are subtitled in English.

25 July 2009: Blackboards

Takhte Siah | Drama & War | Iran | 2000 | 85 mins | Kurdish with English subs

In Kurdistan, the border between Iran and Iraq, a band of teachers are trudging through a barren area, seemingly without directions, each with a rickety blackboard on their back like useless, clumsy wings. Even though the atmosphere is pessimistic, there are plenty of (black,) deadpanned humour colouring this film.

1 August 2009: The Apple

The Apple (original title: Sib) is Samira’s directorial debut film made in 1999. The film is based on a true story and features the real people that actually lived it: Two daughters are locked up by their parents, an unemployed man and his blind wife, for eleven years. Their neighbors call social workers to investigate the situation, and the results lead the girls on a bittersweet path to the rest of the world.

8 August 2009: At Five in the Afternoon

At Five in the Afternoon (Persian: Panj é asr) is a 2003 film that tells the story of an ambitious young woman trying to gain an education in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban. The title comes from a Federico García Lorca poem and is a tale of flourishing against the odds.

At Five in the Afternoon was the first film to be shot in Kabul after the NATO invasion. It was an international co-production between the Iranian company Makhmalbaf Productions and the French companies Bac Films and Wild Bunch.

The film premiered at Cannes in 2003 and was awarded the Jury Prize and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury.

More about Samira Makhmalbaf

At the age of seven, she acted in her father’s film The Bicyclist. She left high school when she was 14, to learn cinema in the Mohhmalbaf Film House for 5 years. At the age of 17, after directing two video productions, she went on to direct the movie The Apple. One year later, the 18 year old director went on to become the youngest director in the world participating in the official section of the 1998 Cannes Film Festival. The Apple has been invited to more than 100 international film festivals in a period of two years, while going to the screen in more than 30 countries.

In 1999, Samira made her second feature film, entitled The Blackboard and for the second time participated in the competition section of the Cannes Film Festival as the youngest director in the world, in 2000, this time winning the jury prize. Samira next directed a movie while living in Kabul called At Five in the Afternoon. Her latest film, Two-Legged Horse, from a script by her father Mohsen, was also shot in Afghanistan.


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