Making the Grades
Ali (Mir Farrokh Hashemian) is a responsible young boy that has been sent on an important mission - take his sister's shoes to be repaired and pick up some potatoes. It may not seem like a big deal, but Ali lives in a poor part of Tehran Iran, and that worn pair of little shoes hold the value of an esteemed set of Nikes would to a North American child. That's why Ali is so concerned when the shoes go missing outside the produce store.
Knowing his father hasn't the money to buy another pair, Ali and his sister Zahra (Bahare Seddiqi) hatch a solution to get around the problem - share Ali's worn sneakers. Zahra goes to school in the morning and Ali in the afternoon. They both run like crazy to meet each day and trade the shoes, but even then Ali is often late for classes. Then one desperate day, Ali comes across what appears to be a permanent solution. A race is being held and third prize is... a pair of sneakers.
I don't know if Seddiqi and Hashemian are big stars in Iran, but for me they're unknowns. Yet, they can act so convincingly the film almost feels like a documentary. As they try and solve their dilemma, they show responsibility, cooperation, and strong determination. They live in a strict home, yet they love and honor their parents, respect their elders, and can still have a fun time, although their opportunities for "play" are limited by their need to work hard.
Nominated for a foreign film Oscar, the only "problem" with the film (besides three minor profanities) is it's subtitled release. North Americans hate to read a movie, and that's a shame. We viewed Children Of Heaven with our children once, reading the subtitles to the younger ones, and they have watched it again two times since. It's an exercise that teaches reading skills and opens a whole other world of cinema to your family. This title may be hard to find, but ask your local shop to consider bringing it in.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Children Of Heaven.
Why didn’t Ali want to tell his father that he had lost his sister’s shoes? What do you think his father would have done? How did his father’s attitude toward Ali change after they spent the day together looking for yard work?
Were the adults in Ali’s world interested in hearing about Ali’s problems? Do you (as a child) ever feel adults don’t care about what you have to say? What can a child do to help an adult understand that what they are saying is important?
Ali’s family is obviously poor, but what were some of the good things you noticed about his family? What was the one “modern” appliance that they did have? [A television.] What does this tell you about television and its influence on the world?