WELLSPRING has just released “BLACKBOARDS,” an astonishing look at the almost indescribable hardships facing humanity in another part of the world. Director Samira Makhmalbaf was only 19 when she directed “BLACKBOARDS” and it’s equally astonishing to find someone so young, so talented and introspective. The film is about wary teachers struggling over dangerous mountain ranges, trying to find pupils in Iran. “BLACKBOARDS” is a film that should be shown in every public high school, and really puts the typical daily “hardships” of America’s youth in an eye-opening perspective. As these teachers face one perilous situation after another, so do the children they find. The potential students that that one teacher finds, explain that they’re so busy carrying heavy contraband on their backs they don’t have the time to “sit” and take lessons. It’s utterly jaw dropping at times. While the plot is loose, it’s engaging, and the characters we meet are unforgettable.
WELLSPRING has presented the film in its proper 1.66:1 ratio, without 16:9 enhancement. The image is generally sharp, and colors are solid. Colors are never fully realized with great depth, but the surroundings are intentionally harsh, but less muted than one would expect. Fleshtones appear natural. Grain is minimal.
WELLSPRING has presented the film’s original Kurdish soundtrack with subtitles and Dolby Digital 5.1. While not an aggressive mix, there’s actually a surprising amount of ambient effects. A terrific featurette/mini-documentary about the film’s production is included, and it too, is fascinating. It gives incredible detail as to how this difficult shoot was accomplished, and we gain more insight into this impressive filmmaker’s background.