A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Posted By: Someonelse
A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

A Time for Drunken Horses (2000)
DVD5 | VIDEO_TS | PAL 16:9 | 01:15:04 | 3,95 Gb
Audio: Kurdish AC3 2.0 @ 224 Kbps | Subs: ENglish
Genre: Drama, War

Director: Bahman Ghobadi
Stars: Ayoub Ahmadi, Rojin Younessi, Amaneh Ekhtiar-dini

The Northern Iran winters are so cold that the Kurdish smugglers who live there feed their mules alcohol so that they will carry loads over the mountain passes. In this world of high-risk border crossings and death by land mine, a fatherless young boy named Ayoub scrapes out a living doing odd tasks, supporting his sisters and crippled brother. This may seem like a recipe for seventy-seven minutes of misery, but the director Bahman Ghobadi's affection for his subjects gives the film a certain lightness. He takes the raw materials of his homeland-the harsh landscape, communal rooms, and lambent-eyed children-and fashions a visual poem. Ghobadi documents his subjects without intruding, and the results are quietly enthralling.


Kurdistan isn't in your atlas, but it exists, the land of a people ignored by the post-Ottoman empire boundary makers and now living in eastern Turkey, northern Iraq and north-western Iran. This movie is set in a mountainous part of the Iraq-Iran border where the local Kurds eke out a living smuggling tea and tractor tyres by mule train from Iran into Iraq. (The return cargo seems to be school exercise books – what the mullahs of Iran have got against those I cannot imagine). No doubt they (the Iranian Kurds) are not on President Bush's Christmas card list, but their main customers are likely to be Kurds on the Iraqi side. The main problem though is not the authorities but bandits, eager to knock off the smuggler's loads.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

The hero here is 12 year old Ayoub, who has to follow in his father's footsteps after the death of his father on a smuggling trip. As Dad stepped on a landmine this is a dangerous undertaking but Ayoub is determined to earn enough money for a operation to prolong the life (if only for a few months) of his severely crippled and retarded older brother. This sounds like blatant melodramatic manipulation, and it is, but it works.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Why does it work? There's the cinemaphotography, so perfectly lit and composed you might as well be standing there. There is excellent use of hand-held cameras, especially on the trail sequences. None of the actors is professional and the whole thing has a documentary air. Above all, the emotional bonds between the characters ring true. Perhaps when you have next to nothing your family becomes all-important, though the kinship bonds here seen to weaken quickly outside the immediate family circle. Kurdistan is a tough place and people are hard, and there's not much community support for the weak and frail. The young are expected to shape up fast, or fall by the wayside. As for the horses, well, animal rights activists would be run out of town.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Yet there is a stark beauty about the film that makes it hard to dismiss – the slow pace grows on you. Ayoub may be going to grow up as just another tough, ignorant, sexist tribesman, but we glimpse here (he is going to school) that he might do better. This is a remarkable and different film and a very good antidote to the recent stream of romantic comedies.
IMDB Reviewer
A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Iran is known for many things, but filmmaking is not one of them. In a country as poor as Iran, films are not likely to have huge budgets lavished on them, and it was with this assumption that I sat down to watch A Time For Drunken Horses. The experience was both a surprise and an enjoyable, though somewhat depressing, look at life in a country we know little about.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Directed by Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi, it tells the story of five orphaned Iranian children in the Kurdish region, close to the Iraqi border. They range in age from 15 down to about eight, and have been motherless since the youngest was born. Their father, a smuggler, dies early in the film, though we never actually get to see him alive, and the burden of providing for the family in the harshest of environments falls to 12 year old Ayoub (Ayoub Ahmadi). Life is made all the tougher by the fact that the 15 year-old is severely physically disabled, and is on constant medication. Madi (Madi Ekhtiar-dini) needs an operation very soon or he will die, and the film tells the story of the children's survival, and at the same time, their attempts to raise money for Madi's life-saving operation in Iraq.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Ayoub, with the aid of his uncle, scores a job with a local band of smugglers that once included his father. They smuggle goods to and from Iraq, usually on foot with the aid of mules, and through the harshest of conditions including deep snow and ambushes. The title of the film refers to the practice of pouring alcohol into the mules' drinking water in order to help keep them warm on the long, arduous trips over the border. Ayoub manages to score the family a mule, essential for making any real money as a smuggler, after a deal involving his sister's arranged marriage sours. Madi is promised his operation, in exchange for Rojin's hand (Rojin Younessi), but at the last minute, the groom's family reneges on that part of the deal, and the children are no better off, other than for the mule. What follows can only be described as heartbreaking, and only the stoniest of hearts would fail to be moved by the dedication and selflessness of 12 year old Ayoub.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Written by director Ghobadi, and set in the places where he grew up, A Time For Drunken Horses has all the signs of a budget film, but it makes quite an impact. The inexperienced child actors are both beautiful and convincing. Their story is no doubt typical of life in these poorest of villages, and reminds us that, by comparison, we have little to complain about. The film was the recipient of several awards including ones from Cannes 2000, and the Chicago International Film Festival. Yes it's a foreign film, but it is not some arty-farty student piece. It is a glimpse of the lives of a handful of children that will probably never know the meaning of true happiness.

A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

A Time For Drunken Horses is a short film by today's standards, but it is the perfect length for a story such as this. It is a film that merely presents itself on its merits. There are no big names, no special effects, and no gimmicks. It is a fine foreign drama from a country that most of us know little about, but after watching this hopefully we will have seen more than just a good film.
A Time for Drunken Horses / Zamani barayé masti asbha (2000) [Re-UP]

Special Features:
- Trailer
- Bahman Ghobadi Biography
- Madman Propaganda

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