An assignment from Iran’s Ministry of Education, this documentary from the last years of the Pahlavi dynasty includes interviews with officials who predictably praise teaching as a sacred, noble, and honorable profession. The teachers who are also interviewed are less starry-eyed; one speaks of ungrateful students and the job’s poor pay. The contrasting views express Abbas Kiarostami’s interest in education while registering some of his reservations about how it is practiced.
“Teachers do the fatherly job and fathers do the teaching work.”
Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa: Have you received other requests to make films about social problems? If that’s the case, why did you decide to make this one?
Abbas Kiarostami: I haven’t received an invitation like this one before. Homework and some short films like Fellow Citizen  or Tribute to the Teachers  had themes of social issues and problems that led me to accept them as self-commissioned works. The subject of this film attracted me for certain other reasons: so I could go at a good time of year (springtime), visit a continent I hadn’t been to before (Africa), work on an original and ambiguous subject (AIDS), and return to the world of children.
Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa in conversation with Abbas Kiarostami2
- 1Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and Jonathan Rosenbaum, Abbas Kiarostami. Expanded Second Edition (Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 152.
- 2Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa and Jonathan Rosenbaum, Abbas Kiarostami. Expanded Second Edition (Urbana, Chicago and Springfield: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 122.