Art and Experience:

World-renowned Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami was remembered at the Ljubljana Documentary Film Festival in Slovenia last Wednesday by screening the Iranian documentary “Tonight’s Homework”.

In the documentary, directors Ashkan Nejati and Mehran Nematollahi repeat the questions Kiarostami asked a number of students in his documentary “Homework” directed in 1989.

In the new documentary, the directors come to the conclusion that the school system and society itself have changed dramatically. The gulf between rich and poor has grown far wider, and that has become evident in schools. Parents, many of whom are illiterate, are unable to help their youngsters, or otherwise too busy with their careers to supervise homework. Any sense of interest or guidance is absent.

In “Homework”, Kiarostami put questions to students at a public school: questions about homework, punishments, and dreams of the future. The result was a portrait of the generation that grew up during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, trapped by uncertainty and a rigid upbringing.

One more screening has also been arranged for “Tonight’s Homework” for March 15, during which the winners will be announced.

Kiarostami’s “Homework” was also reviewed in 2021 by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) during its Focus Program: The Future Tense.

“The six-year-old school kids he interviews on subjects such as homework, punishment and reward have been drilled to provide socially appropriate responses, but with gentle persistence the director elicits more honest answers, painting a more realistic picture,” the organizers said.

“Kiarostami’s visual investigation paints a disturbing picture of the Iranian school system, and thereby also of a society that both produces these educational methods and is shaped by them.”

“The conversations also form a portrait of the generation that grew up during the Iran-Iraq war… and were allowed few opportunities to enjoy the playfulness of childhood.”

Source: Tehrantimes