The Iranian director Hana Makhmalbaf made her first film, Joy of Madness, aged 14.
It received three international awards. Now, at 19, she has made her second, a rough but heartfelt allegory on sexual prejudice and the corruption of innocence. Set in the Afghan town of Bamiyan, dusty from the rubble of the Buddhas blown up by the Taliban in 2001, it focuses on a six-year-old girl, Baktay, who is determined to go to school.
The path to her goal is strewn with obstacles: first she must raise money to buy an exercise book, then endure the ambush of boys using switches as pretend guns. Their instinctive belligerence speaks grim volumes about the status of the native female. As the brave moppet, Nikbakht Noruz is tremendous.Reuse content