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Film director, Majid Majidi

How lucky I am
A boy's thoughts on "Children of Heaven"

By Somm Tabrizi
July 29, 1999
The Iranian

Somm Tabrizi is a 10-year-old Iranian in Toronto, Canada. He entered this article for his school literature contest.

Movies are supposed to be for entertainment as well as for fun. However many movies are meant to teach us lessons about life and pass on some very important messages. In all my lifetime, whenever I went to a movie I always thought I was going to be entertained. That's exactly what I thought was going to happen when I went to see "Children of Heaven", a movie written in Persian, the official language of the country of Iran and also the language I speak at home.

Little did I know the movie I was about to see was not only going to entertain me but also make me feel extremely sad, make me cry, and also teach me one of the biggest lessons I have learned in all my existence. This lesson was going to change the way I looked at my life forever.

Dear judges, parents, teachers, and students,

I'm going to introduce you to the most extraordinary movie I have seen. "Children of Heaven", directed by Majid Majidi, won a birth into the Oscar as a nominee for best foreign language movie only to lose to the Italian movie "Life is Beautiful". The story began when nine-year-old Ali, the eldest of three children, took his sister's only pair of shoes to the repair shop. On his way back home Ali stopped at the market to buy food for the family. Not more than a couple meters away from the shoes, Ali was selecting vegetables, when the store janitor accidentally took the shoes inside a bag, thinking it was garbage and left. Ali could not find the footwear no matter how extensively he looked.

When the young boy finally went home, he discussed the problem with his sister Zahra. Because of their parents' lack of money, the two chose not to tell them about the situation, for they knew their parents would get extremely frustrated at the thought of buying new shoes for their daughter when they almost don't have enough money to quench their thirst or stop their hunger. Since they only had one pair of shoes between them, Ali and Zahra had to face extremely difficult obstacles.

For example, because the boys and girls went to separate schools in Iran, and the boys' and girls' schools were at different times, when Zahra's class was finished, she had to rush home to give the shoes to her brother Ali so that he could rush to school and be there on time.

All of this was done without mother and father knowing. However, this plan was not without its own problem. Many times Zahra did not reach Ali in time to give him the shoes, so he could go to school. Therefore, Ali got to school late, and got in trouble with the principal many times.

Each year, all the schools in the region Ali was living had a marathon race, and the fastest students of the schools in that region could participate. What made Ali want to participate in the race was that the third place winner got a pair of boys' shoes. Ali thought if he won third place he could go to the shoe store and exchange the shoes for girls' shoes and give them to Zahra so that each of them could have a pair of footwear.

In the race, coming towards the final minutes, Ali was in first place, so he purposely slowed down and let two people pass him so that he come in third. However, somebody pushed Ali intentionally and he fell to the ground. As a result, many runners passed him. Therefore, he had to run as fast as he could to get back in front of the pack.

Coming towards the finish line, Ali was part of a group of five runners who were ahead of everybody else, and all five competitors were shoulder to shoulder. As Ali was sprinting, he was dreaming of winning the third place and getting the shoes, but it was so tight that it was very difficult for Ali to purposely come in third, so he simply ran as fast as he could and as a result he came in first. He got the first place prize but not the shoes which was what he wanted.

Ali knew that his father had found an extra job as a gardener, so this would make the family's financial situation much better. What young Ali didn't know was that because of the higher income, his father had bought the children a new pair of shoes. Therefore, after all the hassles the children would get a decent pair of shoes each. So the movie basically ended on this happy note.

As I was watching this film, I realized how lucky I am to have all the things I do and to have money available in my family when it is needed the most. I also learned from this movie that many people don't have money to spend when they have to, or food to eat when they are hungry, or even clean water for when they are thirsty. So after experiencing the most beautiful movie I know of, I feel much more thankful for what I have and what I have received in the past.

When I was watching Ali deal with his problems, I learned to never give up when times get tough and to always do my best at life every day no matter what obstacles lie ahead of me. I hope that one of these days you learn this lesson too, so that you can live your lives more happily and peacefully if you are ever faced with one of these dreadful situations throughout your lives. Thank you for your time.

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February 17, 1999
Tinged with the Color of God
Learning the ins and outs of Iranian cinema during the Fajr festival
By Laleh Khalili

February 9, 1999
Heavenly children
Majidi's film deserves an Oscar
By Reza Farahani

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