Friday, March 19, 2021

Homework (1989 film)


Written, directed, and co-edited by Abbas Kiarostami, Homework is a documentary film about the lives of students at the Shahid Masumi primary school in Tehran as well as their parents. The film explores the lives of these kids and their families as well as the struggles they endure to get a good education. The result is a fascinating and insightful film from Abbas Kiarostami.

Shot in February of 1988 at the Shahid Masumi primary school in Tehran, the film follows the lives of various young students at the school as filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami interviews them about their homework and the struggles to finish it as well as perspective from a couple of fathers who also share their own struggles. The film is largely straightforward as it features Kiarostami talking to a student and get insight into what they do after school and why they don’t finish their homework all the time as it also has discussion of punishments the kids had to endure from their parents. Much of Kiarostami’s work features simple set-ups and compositions in how he interviews each student with a few shots of himself talking as he wants to learn more as he has a son that also struggles with his homework in school.

With the aid of co-editor Yavar Toorang in compiling a lot of the interviews including shots of kids reciting a daily pledge of allegiance before school begins. Kiarostami and his cinematographers in Iraj Safavi and Ali Asghar Mirzai showcase that scene where the sound is cut off to showcase some of the lack of attention span in some of the kids who prefer to goof off and have conversations rather than do this pledge. It play into the idea that these kids probably have learning disabilities that teachers, parents, and the government might’ve overlooked or dismissed as Kiarostami asks some of those kids the struggles. Even in a couple of fathers who admit that work and illiteracy contribute to the reasons why their sons couldn’t finish their homework without their help. It does show these two men in a sympathetic light as it play into their own struggles as they do want what is best for their children despite the tremendous circumstances they have to endure.

With the help of sound recordist Ahmad Asgari and sound mixer Changiz Sayad in capturing the audio of the interviews and pledge scenes, Kiarostami keeps much of the production simple to the point that there’s no music to accompany everything until the end. The film’s music by Mohammad Reza Aligholi is terrific for its somber and mesmerizing orchestral score as it only appears in the film’s final interview and closing credits.

Homework is a marvelous film from Abbas Kiarostami. Featuring its simple presentation and its willingness to ask simple questions from children and adults about education and their struggles. It is a documentary film that plays it simple yet manages to get a lot of compelling answers. In the end, Homework is a remarkable film from Abbas Kiarostami.

Abbas Kiarostami Films: (The Experience) – The Traveler (1974 film) - (A Wedding) – The Report (1977 film) - (First Case, Second Case) – (Fellow Citizens) – (First Graders) – Where is the Friend's House? - Close-Up - Life, and Nothing More... - Through the Olive Trees - Taste of Cherry - (The Wind Will Carry Us) – (ABC Africa) – (Ten (2002 film)) – (Five (2003 film)) – (10 on Ten) – (Shirin) – Certified Copy - Like Someone in Love - 24 Frames

© thevoid99 2021


Jay said...

Great review again, this was a great one to bring forward.

Ruth said...

I really need to see Kiarostami's work! I didn't know he's also a documentarian and this one sounds intriguing. I remember seeing the trailer for Certified Copy with Juliette Binoche, I should start there!

thevoid99 said...

@Jay-Thank you. I hope you check it out as it's something worth watching.

@Ruth-He has made some documentary films along with his features. This film is an extra from the Criterion set for the Koker trilogy. I'd start with Close-Up as that's the best starting point. I have one more film on DVD by that I have to watch and hopefully later this year.