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Kandahar (2001)

A conundrum: the Islamic Republic of Iran, no friend of Western-style liberty, somehow nurtured (well, permitted) the great humanist cinema of the 90s. We’ll let the political scientists explain that one, and just note that men like Makhmalbaf and Abbas Kiarostami have directed on their own, and encouraged in others, films whose stripped-down, but never simple, artistry touches souls around the world. The stories are often about children —poor ones, blind or lame ones —who fight long odds not to triumph but simply to survive.

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