|The Night It Rained|
HDCAM with English subtitles from Pishgamane Cinemaye Arya / National Film Archive of Iran
Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Iranian New Wave, curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht), 10 Feb 2016
Four short and sharp masterpieces, the three first of them documentaries, the fourth a parody of a documentary, directed by the master Kamran Shirdel.
Tehran Is the Capital of Iran is a haunting and gripping account on poverty. We hear the official truth of how things are supposed to be and see the heartbreaking reality.
Women's Prison approaches crime as a consequence of social conditions. In order to survive, these women have committed crimes. The prison can be a way of education and re-socialization.
Qaleh, made in collaboration with Iranian women's union, reveals prostitution as an antechamber of perdition. This is the circle of the very low, including child prostitution and women who have lost all their shine.
The images are stark, the montage is biting, and there is an unforgettable humanity in these films which refuse to objectify the people they depict. There is no miserabilism here.
On The Night It Rained I wrote last summer when I first saw it. It gets better on repeat viewings, a worthy successor to the noble and bewildering tradition of Rashomon and Citizen Kane.
|Tehran Is the Capital of Iran|
Iran 1966–1979. PC: The Ministry of Culture and Art. D+SC: Kamran Shirdel. DP: Mansour Yazdi – b&w. 19 min
Dokumenttielokuva köyhien asuinalueesta etelä-Teheranissa. Kuvausta suuresta hädästä Teheranin huono-osaisten kaupunginosassa säestää kooste erinäisiä suullisia lausuntoja. Esillä on virallinen näkemys paikan elinolosuhteista, asukkaiden näkemys ja otteita koulujen opaskirjoista. Hätkähdyttävän väkevän elokuvan pääilmaisukeino on kuvan ja äänen välinen vastakohta.
Iran 1965. PC: The Ministry of Culture and Art. D+SC: Kamran Shirdel. DP: Maziar Partow – b&w. ED: Kamran Shirdel, Kazem Rajinia. Narrator: Asadollah Payman. 11 min
Women’s Prison kertoo vankien elämästä ja heidän perheidensä ongelmista heidän kamppaillessaan toimeentulostaan. Kamran Shirdel turvautuu tässä cinéma vérité -tyyliin. Vankien, sosiaalityöntekijöiden ja opettajien haastattelut toimivat kommentaareina ”rakennetuille” dokumenttikuville. Tekninen prosessi osoittaa missä määrin yhteiskunnallisten ongelmien ratkaisu riippuu jokaisen osallistumisesta. Vangit yksin eivät voi tarjota lääkettä koko siihen yhteiskunnallisten epäkohtien katalogiin, joka on johdattanut nämä naiset rikollisuuteen.
Iran 1966–1980. PC: The Ministry of Culture and Art. D+SC: Kamran Shirdel. DP: Kamran Shirdel, Mansour Yazdi – b&w. ED: Kamran Shirdel. Photographs: Kaveh Golestan. 19 min
Syvästi koskettava Qaleh kertoo prostituoitujen elämästä Teheranin bordelleissa alueella, joka tunnetaan nimellä Shahre Now. Siinä seurataan useita naisia ja kerrotaan, miten yhteiskunnallisten ongelmien paino on ajanut heidät kohtaloonsa. Kamran Shirdel käyttää valokuvia erityisellä ja taiteellisesti voimakkaalla tavalla, joka tuo mieleen Chris Markerin elokuvan La Jetée. Tämä vaimentaa emotionaalista painoa ja kunnioittaa kuvatun yksityisyyttä; nuo kaksi sudenkuoppaa vaanivat usein elokuvantekijöitä, jotka käsittelevät tällaista aihetta. Elokuvassa tutkitaan naisten uudelleenkoulutuksen mahdollisuutta mutta ei anneta ruusunhohtoista kuvaa todellisuudesta. Väkevä, hidastettu päätöskuva syöpyy syvälle mieleen. Toimeksiantaja oli Iranilaisten naisten liitto, ja elokuva kiellettiin jo ennen valmistumistaan. Vallankumouksen jälkeen osa aineistosta löydettiin, ja Shirdel teki elokuvan valmiiksi käyttäen edesmenneen Kaveh Golestanin valokuvia, jotka oli otettu yli kymmenen vuotta elokuvan filmatuksen jälkeen. (Kolme ensimmäistä esittelyä: Asia Society New York, International Short Film Festival, 2007)
The Night It Rained or the Epic of the Gorgan Village Boy / Oon shab ke baroon oomad ya hemase-ye roosta zade-ye Gorgani
Iran 1967. PC: The Ministry of Culture and Art. EX: Abbas Mohammadinam. Idea and D: Kamran Shirdel. Script for the commentary: Esmaeil Nooriala, Kamran Shirdel. DP: Kamran Shirdel, Naghi Masoumi. Photographs: Nosrat Karimi. S: Homayoun Pourmand. ED: Kamran Shirdel, Fatemeh Dorostian. Narrator: Nosrat Karimi. – 40 min
Satiirinen dokumenttielokuva on pikakurssi 1960-luvun Iranista. Lehtiuutinen sankarillisesta pikkukylän pojasta, joka esti junaonnettomuuden, leviää nopeasti. Tapausta aletaan pian epäillä, ja kohta kukaan ei tiedä, kuka on kenetkin pelastanut. Vuonna 1939 syntynyt Kamran Shirdel muistetaan parhaiten hänen salaisesti kuvaamistaan dokumenttielokuvista köyhästä väestä, unohtamatta sitä, että hän uudelleenfilmasi Godardin elokuvasta Viimeiseen hengenvetoon nimellä Sobh-e rooz-e chaahaarom (The Morning of the Fourth Day, 1972). Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografiassa kouluttautuneen Shirdelin edelliset elokuvat olivat Iranin hallituksen rahoittamia ja kieltämiä: niitä ei milloinkaan näytetty shaahin aikana. Tämäkin antiautoritaarinen, rashomonmainen tarina kiellettiin aluksi, mutta kuusi vuotta myöhemmin se arvioitiin vaarattomaksi. Sitten se sai parhaan lyhytelokuvan palkinnon Teheranin elokuvajuhlilla. (Ehsan Khoshbakht, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, 2015).
Beyond the jump break notes by Asia Society New York, International Short Film Festival, 2007:
Asia Society New York, International Short Film Festival, 2007
The film was produced on behalf of the Organization of Iranian Women and was immediately banned while shooting was still going on. After the revolution, a portion of the material was found, and Shirdel decided to finish the film using photos by the late Kaveh Golestan that were taken more than ten years after the film itself was shot.
THE NIGHT IT RAINED
The Night It Rained (a.k.a. The Epic of Gorgani Villager) Conceived, Written and Directed by Kamran Shirdel Cameramen: Naghi Maasoumi, Kamran Shirdel Editing: Kamran Shirdel, Fati Dorostian Sound: Homayoun Pourmand Scripted Narration: Esmail Nouriala Narrator: Nosrat Karimi Produced by the Ministry of Culture and Art Format: 35 mm Running time: 35 min. B&W, 1967-74 image from The Night It RainedSynopsis: The Night It Rained is undoubtedly Kamran Shirdel's best film and a masterpiece in the history of documentary filmmaking. In northern Iran, a schoolboy from a village near Gorgan is said to have discovered that the railway had been undermined and washed away by a flood. As the story goes, when he saw the approaching train, he set fire to his jacket, ran towards the train and averted a serious and fatal accident. Shirdel's film does not concentrate on the heroic deed promulgated in the newspapers, but on a caricature of social and subtle political behavior - the way in which witnesses and officials manage to insert themselves into the research into this event. Shirdel uses newspaper articles and interviews with railway employees, the governor, the chief of police, the village teacher and pupils, each of whom tell a different version of the event. In the end, they all contradict each other, while the group of possible or self-appointed heroes constantly grows. With his cinematic sleights of hand, Shirdel paints a bittersweet picture of Iranian Society in which truth, rumor, and lie can no longer be distinguished. After completion the film was harshly banned and confiscated, and Shirdel was expelled from the Ministry. It was released seven years later in 1974 to participate in the Third Tehran International Film Festival, where it won the GRAND PRIX by a unanimous vote, only to be banned again until after the revolution.
Social Documentaries With English subtitles. Screening introduced and followed by a Q&A with Hamid Naficy, Professor of Radio-Television-Film and the Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani Professor in Communication, Northwestern University, moderated by La Frances Hui, Asia Society Film Curator. Watch the introduction and Q&A on video here. A foremost figure in Iranian sociopolitical documentary, Kamran Shirdel (1939- ) studied filmmaking at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Italy. Among his teachers were Roberto Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Vittorio De Sica. After returning to Iran, he made many documentaries focusing on the marginalized sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and Art. But due to his revelations of the dark side of society at a time of seeming economic progress, Shirdel was expelled and exiled. Women’s Quarter and Tehran is the Capital of Iran had to be completed years later since materials were confiscated during production. Shirdel is the founder and director of the Kish International Documentary Film Festival.
Women's Prison 1965. Iran. 11 min. B/W. DVCAM. In this Tehran jail, over two hundred women and girls are housed, convicted of crimes such as murder and drug addiction. Beyond depiction of peaceful literature and handicraft classes are desperate personal stories of women held behind bars. Women's Quarter 1966-1980. Iran. 18 min. B/W. DVCAM. Shot in the red-light district of Tehran, this film portrays the bleak existence of prostitutes. A text recited in a classroom about the progress the country has made is juxtaposed with candid interviews with prostitutes, who tell their stories of capture, escape, poverty, and daily struggles. Tehran is the Capital of Iran 1966-1980. Iran. 18 min. B/W. DVCAM. A text glorifying the Shah’s regime is set to ironic images of a poverty-stricken district in Tehran, populated by homeless people, blood sellers, and petit criminals.
THE NIGHT IT RAINED
The Night It Rained 1967. Iran. 35 min. B/W. DVCAM. A village boy near the northern city of Gorgan is hailed in the media for heroically preventing a train’s derailment. Shirdel arrives in the village and unexpectedly hears opposing accounts of what happened. By presenting the different accounts, each serving the individual subject’s self-interest, Shirdel explores the possibility of truth. Hamid Naficy is a leading authority on cinema and television in the Middle East, has produced many educational films and experimental videos and has published extensively. His many publications include such well-known titles as An Accented Cinema, The Making of Exile Cultures, Otherness and the Media: The Ethnography of the Imagined and the Imaged. Most recently, he has published A Social History of Iranian Cinema, in four volumes available from Duke University Press.
THE NIGHT IT RAINED or
THE EPIC OF THE GORGAN VILLAGE BOY
Conceived and Directed by : Kamran Shirdel
Editing : Kamran Shirdel - Fati Dorostian
Cameramen : Kamran Shirdel - Naghi Masoumi
Sound recordist: Homayoun Pourmand
Narration : Esmaeil Nooriala - Kamran Shirdel
Narrator : Nosrat Karimi
Stills : Nosrat Karimi
Executive producer: Abbas Mohammadinam
Epic of The Gorgani Village boy.....
His bravery in saving 200 passengers calls to mind the Heroes of Antiquity.
Village boy prevents train crash.
Reward proposed for heroic village boy.
Heroic village boy gets reward.
Village boy's bravery again talk of town.
LIE OF THE YEAR !!
The Epic of The Gorgani Village Boy deceives the public.
The Epic of the Gorgani Village Boy to be filmed.
Ministry of Culture and Arts Film team has gone to Gorgan and filming
is already, partially completed.
First part of the letter :
With reference to your instructions to make a film on the Epic of the
Gorgan village boy, we beg to state that the team sent for this
purpose first went to the village where the heroic boy lives. The
aforesaid boy, however, with his customary self-sacrifice, had taken
his disabled father to the city of Gorgan for a medical examination
and treatment. The team therefore took advantage of the situation to
prepare a filmed report on the everyday life and customs of the
villagers, with due regard for ethnological and folkloric criteria.
Lamelang, with its pleasent climate and hospitable inhabitants, is
eight kilometeres from Gorgan.
Popular games in the village of Lamelang.
......Rural reconstruction in the village of Lamelang.
...... Street construction in the village of Lamelang.
...... Fun and games for the children in the village of Lamelang.
...... Traditional architecture in the village of Lamelang.
...... Domestic science as practised by the ladies
of the village of Lamelang.
...... Coqutery in the village of Lamelang.
...... Conversation among the gentlemen in the village of Lamelang.
After inspecting the handicrafts industry in the village of Lamelang,
the team made friends with the villagers and did some talent-scouting.
Voice off : Pay attention and stand still. Lift your head up. Higher.
Still higher....O.K. that's it. That's what we call real acting.
Then there was the village idiot who laughed at all and sundry.
Second part of the letter :
In view of the shortage of time the team decided to begin by
interviewing the various people connected with the epic in question.
Local correspondent of Kayhan newspaper:
1 take 4
Q : You are Mr. Sahra'i, chief correspondent of Kayhan for the area?
A : Yes, I'm Sahra'i, chief correspondent of Kayhan in Gorgan.
Q : You were the first person to send the news to Tehran on the
heroism of the Gorgan village boy ?
A : Yes, I was the first to send the news to Tehran .
Q : But some papers, including the Shoma-e Iran, deny the Kayhan story !
A : Well it's a good thing you have come here to see. You can go to
the village and get in touch with the Literacy Corpsman, the boy
himself, his neighbours, and the village headman, and find out what
happened, whether the boy really stopped the train or not.
Q : what evidence do you have that the boy really stopped the train?
A : Apart from the boy's own story, his neighbours also say it's true.
Some government officials including the Governor-General of the
Province confirm the story that the train was stopped by the boy.
Besides that, there are others who support his story, including the
village headman and people who were there when it happened, and they
all confirm that the boy stopped the train.
Hand with worry beads: It's a pack of lies, sir.
Announcer: The Ministry of Interior.
From: The Governor-General of Mazandaran Province.
No.25797, Dated 27 November 1967
To: The Northern Railway District.
With reference to letter No.37025 dated 21 November 1967 addressed to
the Governor of Gorgan, it is hereby stated that on the basis of the
investigation that has been carried out the news item that appeared in
Kayhan newspaper to the effect that as a result of the bravery and
effective warning of the boy described in this article the passengers
in the train were saved from certain death is correct. It is therefore
obvious that the officials responsible for the railway track neglected
Signed; Governor-General of Mazandaran Province.
Hand with worry beads: It's a pack of lies, sir.
Voice off: Village boy. Plan 1 / Take 2
Q: Excuse me, sir. Are you the editor of the newspaper Shomal-e Iran ?
A: Yes, I am Navazesh, editor of the newspaper Shomal-e Iran .
Is there anything I can do for you ?
Q: I would like to ask you some questions about this Gorgan Village boy...
A: (Impatiently) the Gorgan village boy, always the blasted Gorgan village boy.
Q: You seem very upset about the matter?
A: Yes, I'm afraid I am. If you want the full story I can give it to
you. I wrote about it in detail in my paper. I really must ask you to
get a copy of the issue in question and study it. All the facts are
Q: Very good, I will do that. But may I also ask you a few questions
in person? How did all this happen?
A: If you want to know the truth the fact is that unfortunately we
have no such hero. That night no passenger train came to Gorgan, my
dear sir. The passenger train was stopped at Behshahr, 85 Kilometeres
Q: So there was no train?
A: There was no train. There was also no question of the lives of 200
passengers for the Gorgan village boy or me or you or anyone else to
come and save. The whole question of a passenger train is rubbish.
Q: So what kind of train was it?
Kayhan correspondent: The train was a good train. It wasn't a
passenger train but the boy thought it was one. He said to me “if I
had been killed it would have been better than if 200 people had been
killed". That was how I came to send the story to Tehran in the form I
Editor of Shomal-e Iran: A goods train from Bandar Shah was travelling
that night to Gorgan. There was a good reason. It was bringing
supplies for the army. It was travelling very slowly; it had been
given orders to proceed with great care. I myself investigated the
matter for three days, the journalists spent three full days on this
story and it was a pure waste of time, when we discovered the truth.
Unfortunately, the deeper we dug into the story the more clearly we
saw that what the respected Kayhan printed was pure sensationalism,
the kind of sensationalism that some of the press goes in for.
END REEL ONE!
Film Director's voice: Clacker board
Q: Mr. Governor, may I ask you to give us your views on the Gorgan village boy?
A: In my opinion what the boy did was linked to what the train
officials did. That is to say that on the night it all happen, October
21st, this boy, who lives near the railway line, had occasion to cross
the track and noticed that there was nothing underneath the rails.
Q: You mean the sleepers had gone or the foundation had been washed away?
A: The foundation had been washed away, but the sleepers were still in
position. The boy realized that this undoubtedly put the train in
grave danger, and since he had read in a school-book about a similar
situation he realized where his duty lay and went along the track to
warn the train. He saw the lights of the train in a distance and just
as he was beginning to take steps to stop the train by signaling to
Q: Just what kind of signal did he make, sir?
A: Well, since the boy lives near the railway line, as I mentioned,
he'd often seen the pointsmen and railway staff signaling, and
naturally a boy will quickly get to learn these signals. And just then
the personnel on the train realized the danger and had already taken
steps to stop. Their action and the boy's action occurred
simultaneously. Yes, That's it.
Hand with worry beads: It's a pack of lies, sir.
Kayhan correspondent: The normal procedure for trains is that when a
train wants to leave, it must let the next station know, in other
words permission must be given for it to proceed. The train had been
authorized to leave the previous station for Gorgan because the Gorgan
officials did not know the bridge was broken.
Editor of Shomal-e Iran: No, sir...
The bridge which broke is the Enjelab Bridge, which is 2,800 meters
from the place where the train stopped. How could a boy, a boy or a
grown man, or a genius or a hero, how could he tell from three
kilometers that a bridge is broken, especially on a stormy night, a
terrible night, a night of floods ?
Q: What is your opinion about the boy burning his jacket?
Governor: As he himself says and as things actually was, it was
raining intermittently that night, and it is possible that during a
period of only light rain he could have set fire to his jacket with
Editor of Shomal-e Iran: On a night when it was raining cats and dogs,
he couldn't have set fire to his jacket or anything else. It would
have been impossible. Nothing could have caught fire that night.
Governor: It was raining intermittently that night, and it is possible
that during a period of only light rain he could have set fire to his
coat with kerosene.
Editor of Shomal-e Iran: No, It's a lie. I spent a lot of time looking
for that coat. I even asked the boy and his parents about it and they
admitted there was no jacket. He didn't have a jacket to set fire to,
Governor: In any case what the boy did happened just as the train
personnel had realized the danger ahead of them and brought the train
to a stop.
Letter from the Governor: It is therefore obvious that the officials’
responsible for the railway track neglected their duty.
Hand with worry beads: It is a pack of lies, sir.
Question: Has the boy been awarded?
Kayhan correspondent: There have been many proposals so far. Among
them the station master gave the boy and his brother fifty Rials each.
Governor: Reward, yes, in the form of a study grant. Something like
2.000 Rials, I believe.
Kayhan correspondent: They also awarded him a physical education
medal. He's also had a suit and a briefcase and a book sent by a
teacher of Shiraz, and the teachers of Mashhad have invited him to
visit Mashhad as their guest next summer. There's also a 10,000 Rials
cheque given to him through our newspaper. Also there have been a lot
of letters from all over the country sent to us which we pass on to
Third part of letter: Before going to Gorgan railway station, which
was closed because of the damage to the bridge, to interview the
respected railway authorities, the team visited the damaged bridge
where reconstruction operations were diligently being pushed on.
Clapboard/voice off: Railway 1, take 3.
Q: Sir, are you the station master of Gorgan ?
Answer: Yes, I am Mohammad Taghi Sa'adat, chief of the railway
operations for Gorgan.
Q: There is a rumor that a certain Gorgan village boy stopped the
train. What is your opinion about this?
A: No, unfortunately this is not correct.
Q: What exactly happened?
A: That night, when very heavy rain began, the duly authorized
technical railway staff travelled the entire length of the northern
rail district from Gorgan to Firouz Kuh to check track and bridges.
Q: When the rains began?
A: It began to rain about five to five-thirty P.M. and steadily increased.
Q: Where did the train start from?
A: The train you mean was a good train which left Bandar Shah for
Gorgan at 8:30 with a consignment of goods for the army.
Q: And when was it stopped?
A: We succeeded in stopping this train at 9:15.
Q: What time was it when you were informed that the train had left Bandar Shah?
A: Usually when a train leaves they tell us. We knew that the train
had left at 8:35 but we heard about the damage to the bridge at 8:45.
Q: That is ten minutes after the train had left?
A: Yes, ten minutes after the train had left.
The track foreman sent a man by railway tricycle to the station with
the news and I immediately dispatched a technician with the proper
equipment including three-color lantern, fire-crackers and cartridges
to stop the train. Then I set off myself together with a number of my
staff to where the track was damaged to investigate the matter, and we
succeeded in stopping the train.
Q: Did the train have any passengers?
A: No, There were only a few technical staff and guards. The passenger
train, which did have passengers, was stopped before it got to
Behshahr. There, we rented a bus at a cost of 2.000 Rials and brought
the passengers to their destination.
Warehouseman: I am the warehouseman of the Gorgan railway station, but
that night because the deputy station master was on leave I was doing
his job too, and I went and prevented the accident.
Q: They say this boy set fire to his jacket and stopped the train.
What's your opinion?
A: It's quiet out of the question. The night it all happened and I
went out there, I was wearing this same jacket I am now and it was
drenched. Even my identity card which was in an inside pocket got
soaked. If you'd had "SS" petrol, what they use in airplanes, and
poured it on your jacket it wouldn't have caught fire that night. So
how could he have set fire to his jacket with a bit of kerosene and a
Reel Three !
Police chief: I'm Captain Amir Abbas Eshqipour, chief of the railway
police of Gorgan.
Q: If the Gorgan village boy didn't exist how come the engine-driver
gave him a ride?
A: As a matter of fact, that's a very good question. That was
precisely the point I investigated myself. The boy left his home and
saw everywhere was flooded, so he decides the best way for him to go
is along the railway line. So he's walking along the track with a lamp
in his hand. The train comes along and the driver sees him walking
along with his lamp and think he's a railway man. So he stops the
train. Then he sees it's a boy, soaked to the skin, 'cause it had been
raining cats and dogs, and he feels sorry for him and tells him to hop
up. Then he sets off again and a little while later the track
personnel signal the train to stop because of the bridge.
Q: How far would you say it was from where he picked the boy up to
where they stopped the train?
A: About 800 meters, I'd say.
Q: You mean they only took the boy 800 meters?
A: Yes, that's as far as they took him, till the train was stopped
near a shrine called Imamzadeh Hashem.
Head Foreman, 1, Take 2:
Q: What is your position at Gorgan railway station?
A: I'm Hasan Nur Mohammadzadeh, and I'm in charge of protecting the track.
Q: When did you realize about the damage to the track that night?
A: Damage to the track? When it rains the track personnel have to go
along the entire length of the track, inspecting it, and see there's
Q: So you carried out this inspection?
A: Yes, and before that, the district chief had also telephoned from
Bandar Shah to say a goods train travelling at 30 kilometers an hour
had left and to ask how the track was. I set off with tricycle driver
down the track till I got to the first bridge. That's a steel bridge
and it was all right. Water was running under the bridge towards
Zangeh Mahalleh. The Literacy Corpsman of Zangeh Mahalleh was also
there and with the help of some villagers they managed to divert the
water from the track. I got down and told them to watch out, that a
train was coming. We went on to the first bridge which was damaged.
From two hundred meters away we could see it was damaged. I told the
tricycle driver to go back to the station and tell them that if the
train hadn't left they should stop it leaving and if it had left I'd
go out with a lamp and the red flag. I went on a bit and saw the
second bridge was also damaged.
Q: I see, so in the end who stopped the train?
A: I did.
Q: You did?
Q: So what about this story of the village boy having stopped it?
A: It's pure lies; he's made it all up, sir.
Q: Is the boy himself made up then?
Q: What about setting fire to his jacket then?
A: Let me take off my jacket and throw it in the water, then you pour
kerosene on it and strike a match. If it catches fire then I'll
believe the boy's story.
Q: How far is it from where the train stopped to the damaged bridge?
A: About 2,800 meters. I stopped the train opposite the shrine of the
Imamzadeh Soleiman. To the bridge must be 2,200 meters.
Q: So you didn't even see this boy?
A: No .
Q: So who is this Gorgan village boy?
Editor of Shomal-e Iran: The Gorgan village boy, always the Gorgan village boy.
A: We don't know anything about the Gorgan village boy and we didn't
see him. They have just created him to make trouble for us. They've
made a big thing of him. Out of my daily wages of hundred Rials I've
got to spend twenty or thirty Rials a day on magazines and newspapers
to find out what's going on. It's lucky there wasn't an accident. If
there had been, I don't know what would have happened to us.
Fourth Part of the letter :
After conducting the above mentioned interviews the film team returned
to the village of Lamalang to carry out its main mission, interviewing
the epic-creating boy in question and those around him.
National Anthem :
O lion and sun flag of Iran.
Cast your rays over the world
As a memento of those glorious ancient days.
We gladly lay down our lives in your shadow
While taking the lives of the enemy
We are the heirs of the Kiani Kingdom
We will always love our country with heart and soul.
Almighty God, we worship you alone, and we pray for the Prophets and Saints.
O God, keep our bodies strong, our minds alert
and our souls pure.
Boy reading :
“Suddenly Riz Ali saw a solution. Despite the biting cold he quickly
took off his clothes and tied them to his stick. He poured the
kerosene from his lamp over the clothes and set fire to them. He began
to run towards the train holding this torch above his head. When he
saw the flames the driver knew there was danger ahead.
He applied the brakes and the train shuddered to a halt. The driver
and the passengers poured out of the train wondering what was going
on. When they saw the landslide and the torch and Riz Ali standing
there naked, they realized the great danger that he had saved them
from. Riz Ali, that heroic villager, will never forget that moment of
Literacy Corpsman :
I am Abdolrahim Abdolrahimi, The Literacy Corpsman for the village of Lamalang.
Q: Is Mohammad Esma'il Nowdehi one of your pupils?
A: That's right.
Q: What kind of a pupil is he?
A: He's good. He's the class monitor and top of the class as well.
Q: What do you know about this business of stopping the train?
A: I know about it because one day this boy was late for school. I
asked him why he was late and he said that the night before he'd
stopped a train and the engine-driver had told him to go to the
station to get a reward.
Q: where did the train stop?
A: Near Lamalang, in front of the shrine of the Imamzadeh Soleiman.
Q: Let's get this straight. Is it the shrine of the Imamzadeh
Abdollah, or the Imamzadeh Hashem, or the Imamzadeh Soleiman ?
Village boy: It's the Imamzadeh Abdollah.
Police chief: It's the Imamzadeh Hashem.
Literacy Corpsman: It's called the Imamzadeh Soleiman.
Fifth Part of the letter: Next the team interviewed the epic-making
village boy who had saved hundreds of passengers from certain death.
Q: Are you Mohammad Esma'il Nowdehi?
Q: How old are you ?
Q: What class are you in ?
A: Class five.
Q: Would you tell me briefly all about this business of stopping the
A: Yes, that afternoon when school finished I was on my way home and
it began to pour with rain, but there was not much flooding. When I
got home I had my supper and just before going to bed I decided to go
out and see how the flooding was. When I went out I saw that the flood
had washed away both sides of our house, and that the house might
collapse. So I ran to my parents and told them to come at once as the
house might collapse. When they saw there was nothing they could do
they told my brother and me to start walking along the track to
Lamalang and stay with your elder brother there. So we walked along
the track and were just over there by the shrine when we saw the track
was damaged and we couldn't continue.
Q: What was wrong with the track?
A: It had been washed away by the flood, stones, wood, and everything.
Q: Under the track?
A: Yes, underneath the track was washed away.
Q: How many meters of track were affected?
A: About 25 meters was washed away.
Q: Then what did you do?
A: Then we noticed that my father wasn’t following us, as we’d
thought. Then we also noticed a train was coming. So I asked my
brother if he thought train would be derailed. My brother thought it
would, so I asked him what we ought to do. He said;
“I don’t know, you do whatever you think best.”
Then we remembered our class three reader, and the story of Riz Ali.
So I quickly took off my jacket, poured some kerosene on it and lit it
with the help of a piece of paper I had in my pocket. I wound it
around my arm and waved it. The engine-driver didn’t see it. Then with
the help of my lamp I stopped the train. When the engine-driver and
the head of the train came down they looked very angry and asked me
why I had stopped the train. I said; “There’s danger ahead”. When he
saw that the bridge was damaged and he couldn’t continue, the
engine-driver said to me; “well done, lad”. Half an hour later two
railway man appeared.
Q: There was no one else there?
A: No, first I said I was cold. Let’s get on the train. He said that’s
all right, so we climbed on, and we saw two Turkmens were on the
Q: Where had the Turkmens come from?
A: They had come from around Bandar Shah.
Q: Were they passengers?
Q: But the train was a good train.
A: Yes, but the driver had taken them as illegal passengers.
Railway Chief : No, unfortunately this is not correct.
Train chief : It’s pure lies. It’s all made up.
Q: Then what happened?
A: Then we said we’ll catch cold, and they put their jackets over us.
After half an hour two railway men appeared. They had a talk with
engine-driver and said “who are you?” and “we don’t know you” and
things like that. Then he said “you’re late. “, then he took us on the
train again and wanted to take us to Sari, Sari station.
Q: Did the train go backwards or forwards?
A: It went backwards. The driver wanted to take us to Sari. But my
father didn’t let us. So we got off the train. We asked for a reward,
but the driver told us to go to the head of Gorgan station next day
and he’d give us a reward.
Q: Did you do that?
A: Yes, the next day I went to the head of Gorgan.
We said hello and told him what had happened and he gave fifty Rials
to me and fifty Rials to my brother. He told us to come back on
Tuesday. We went back on Tuesday and there was a policeman in front of
his house and he said to us “Don’t waste your time, my boys. They’ve
cooked up a story about what happened and there’s no mention of you in
Q: What did you do with your lamp?
A: The chiefs on the train that night took it and kept it.
Village Headman :
Q: Who do you think stopped the train?
Mohammad Esma’il Nowdehi or the railway People?
A: Mohammad Esma’il did. We‘re hundred per cent sure of it.
Q: How are you so sure?
A: The boy’s not a liar. He’s been going to school for several years,
and Abdollah, Abbas and I went there. We got there before the train
Q: Who are Abdollah and Abbas?
A: They’re both from Lamalang, and members of the village council.
Q: Who did you first hear the news from?
A: Mohamma Esma’il told me what had happened.
Q: Perhaps Mohammad Esma’il was lying?
A: We saw with our own eyes, sir.
Hand with worry beads:
Pure lies, it’s all made up, sir.
Q: Are you a Literacy Corpsman?
A: I’m an Extension and Development Corpsman in the Gorgan district.
Q: Who do you think stopped the train, the Gorgan village boy or the
A: I don’t know.
Hand with worry beads: Pure lies, it’s all made up, sir.
Sixth part of the letter: At this point the film team decided it was
necessary to pay a personal visit to Bandar shah railway station and
interview two persons who played a fundamental role in the creation of
Until the aforesaid persons were willing to be interviewed, the film
team investigated the question of the rain which was sometimes slight
and sometimes heavy, as well as the accuracy of the climatologically
statements by various officials and continued anthropological
observations in the field of industrial psychology.
+ Interview with engine-driver and train chief +
Q: Your name, sir?
A: Abazar Sharifi, engine-driver of the Bandar Shah depot.
Q: Where exactly was your train stopped?
A: 800 meters before the bridge damaged by the flooding.
Q: What did you do after you stopped?
A: We contacted the regional headquarters, the traffic controller, and
were ordered to return by reversing at 10 kilometers an hour.
Q: So you didn’t go on?
A: No, we didn’t.
Q: Did you take any passengers?
A: There were some villagers there who were soaked to the skin. It was
raining heavily and they asked us to take them. We took them about two
kilometers and dropped them off in front of their house.
Q: Your name, sir?
A: Amir Kamali, chief of goods trains at Bandar Shah Station.
Q: What speed was your train travelling at?
A: In accordance with the order we had been given by the traffic
controller, we were travelling at 25 to 30 kilometers an hour.
Q: Is the written order still in existence?
Q: Can we see it?
A: Yes, you can. It’s at the station.
Q: Good. So what do you think about this business of the Gorgan
village boy stopping the train?
A: The Gorgan village boy doesn’t exist. It was entirely the track
staff from Bandar Shah and a points man from Bandar Shah Station and
track staff who signaled to us to stop with red light – lanterns. We
immediately stopped and they told us what happened. That’s what
Q: But they say the boy set fire to his coat?
A: its pure lies, sir. Do you honestly think that on that night when
it was raining cats and dogs anyone could have pulled out a match and
set fire to anything?
Q: So you think it’s a lie?
A: A pure lie. Yes, sir, it’s all made up.
Last Part of the letter:
Finally while presenting this summary of the efforts of the film team
it is hoped that the epic of the heroic Gorgan village boy will
receive the favor of your earnest attention and that in view of the
significance of the rain which occurred on the night of the incident,
consent will be given to entitling the said epic: “The Night It
Assuring you, sir, of our
Directors Voice: Karimi, ask the questions.....
Q: So in the end who stopped the train?
A: Riz Ali Khajavi, that heroic villager.
Q: Mohammad Esma’il did it, we’re hundred per cent sure of it.
A: There was no train, for the Gorgan village boy or anyone else to
come and save.
A: I stopped the train.
Q: You did it?
Q: What about setting fire to his jacket, then?
A: It’s pure lies.
A: It wouldn’t have caught fire in that rainy night.
A: (The Boy ) : So I quickly took off my jacket, poured some kerosene
on it and lit it with the help of a piece of paper I had in my pocket.
A: Do you honestly think that on that night when it was raining cats
and dogs anyone could have pulled out a match and set fire to
A: It’s absolutely impossible.
A: It has been raining intermittently that night, and it is possible
that during a period of only light rain he could have set fire to his
jacket with kerosene.
A: It’s absolutely impossible. Nothing could have caught fire that night.
A: Even if you’d airplane petrol and poured it on your jacket it
wouldn’t have caught fire that night so how could he have set fire to
his jacket with a bit of kerosene and a match?
A :( The Boy): I wound it around my arm and waved it
A: No, It’s a lie. He didn’t have a jacket to set fire to, they said.
A: Let me take off my jacket and throw it in the water then you pour
kerosene on it and strike a match. If it catches fire then I’ll
believe the boy’s story.
Q: So you think it’s a lie?
A: The boy’s not a liar, he’s been going to this school for several years.
A: He’s a good student. He’s been the class monitor and top of the
class as well.
A: The Gorgan village boy doesn’t exist.
A: We saw him with our own eyes, Sir.
Q: Who’s finally this Gorgan village boy?
A: I don’t know.
A: As a matter of fact that’s a very good question.
A: Again the blasted Gorgan village boy, The Gorgan village boy.
A: We don’t know anything about the Gorgan village boy and we didn’t
see him. They’ve just created him to make trouble for us.
A,(The Boy): Then with the help of my lamp I stopped the train.
A: No. Unfortunately it’s not true.
A: What the boy did happened just simultaneously
As the train personnel who brought the train to a stop.
A: No, it’s pure lies. It’s all made up.
A: The fact of the matter is that unfortunately we have no such hero.
A: On the basis of investigations that has been carried out the news
item that appeared in Kayhan newspaper to the effect that as a result
of the bravery of the boy, the passengers in the train were saved….
A: It was not a passenger train. It was a good train.
A: It is therefore obvious that the officials responsible for the
railway track neglected their duty.
Voice off (With reverberating echo rising up):
Pure lies, pure lies
It’s all a pack of pure lies.
Pure lies, pure lies.
It’s all a pack of pure lies.
The following is the translation of the song which is sang at the end
of the film as an ultimate epitaph to THE BOY.
Mohammad Esma’il sterling fellow
We’ll sing his praises with a bellow.
May he live for six-score years
In his lifetime shed no tears
May you all be hale and hearty
Every gathering like a party
We have come to greet you royally
We have come to serve you loyally.
Now our little song is over
With your tip we’ll be in clover
May the holy saints above
Bless all your kinsfolk with their love.
T H E E N D