The White Balloon is a 1995 Iranian film directed by Jafar Panahi.

White Balloon told the story of Raziel, a 7 year-old girl who wished to have a new fish for the family at just 1 hour 28 minutes before the Iran New Year Eve. Having a new fish is a tradition at New Year Eve of Tehran, Iran. But all the shops would close in 90 minutes to have a week off to celebrate the New Year.

In Nowruz, Iranians often put a goldfish in the bottle. Razieh has already had a goldfish tank and her neighbors also beg her for fish. But Razieh thinks that these fishes are weak, less tails and not beautiful. She insisted on her mother buying a very beautiful fish that she saw in the shop.

Her mother gave her 50 toman, Razieh bribed her brother with a bubble so he pleaded with their mother to give her enough money. Having no small change , the mother gave her 500 toman.

Razieh rushed to the store but on the way, she lost the money when stopped to watch a snake circus. Then the journey to find the money of Razieh and to buy goldfish brought the audience to the narrow streets of the Iranian capital. 88 minutes of the film show the Iranian society through a corner.

The film brought the Iranian director Jafar Panahi to the international audience when he won the Camera d'Or "Golden Cameras Award” at the Cannes Film Festival in 1995. The award was for first-run movies and this was his first film to be released. The film was also nominated for "Best Foreign Film" at the Oscars that year.

In addition, the film also won other prestigious awards such as: Best Foreign Film Award at Cinefest Sudbury 1995; Best Foreign Film Award at the 1996 New York Film Critics Awards; Gold Award at the 1996 Tokyo International Film Festival.

Director Jafar Panahi

Director Jafar Panahi was born in 1960 in a Muslim family in the northwestern city of Mianeh. He was known as the initiator of the new wave of Iranian cinema. After his debut film White Balloon, The Mirror (1997), he continued to tell the story of Iranian children's fate. The third film The Circle (2000) told the story of the fate of Iranian women in harsh Islamic society.

Despite being banned in Iran, the film received numerous awards from foreign film festivals, including the Venice Film Festival's Golden Lion. The next two films are Crimson Gold (2003) and Offside (2006). They told stories about Iranian social realities with harsh criticism. While Crimson Gold won the Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Film Festival, Offside won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at the Berlin Film Festival.

With many films with human cinema style depicts the naked, harsh reality in Iran, Jafar Panahi was quickly recognized internationally as one of the few big Iranian filmmakers.




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