Bahman Ghobadi’s devastatingly powerful debut feature is an unflinching portrait of the hardships faced by a family of Kurdish orphans who live in a remote mountain village on the border between Iran and Iraq. A Kurd himself, Ghobadi, who has worked as assistant director with Abbas Kiarostami and as an actor for Samira Makhmalbaf, easily establishes himself as one of the most important new talents to come out of Iran.
The film concerns Ayoub, who at the age of twelve must take on the role of parent, caring for his siblings, including Madi, his severely handicapped brother who is in urgent need of an operation. In order to earn enough money to send Madi to hospital, the young family take on the dangerous and gruelling task of smuggling goods by donkey over the mine-littered border. Due to the spiteful weather, even the animals have to be geared up with alcohol (hence the quizzical title). Filmed in documentary style, with a cast made up entirely of non-professionals, his film provides a penetrating, wholly unsentimental view of the courage of those living in the most deplorable conditions. A Time for Drunken Horses is cinema at its most simple and most eloquent.
Iran, 2000.English subtitles.Colour.80 mins.