Young Kurdish siblings suffer terrible hardships as they struggle to raise funds for their brother's operation.
Bahman Ghobadi makes his feature debut with this harrowing insight into the misery endured by so many on the Iran-Iraq border. Set in his home village, this remarkable study of dispossessed dignity recalls Eric Valli's Himalaya, with its documentary depiction of the savage mountains through which the doughty Kurds lead their alcohol-fuelled horse caravans of contraband.
Desperate to raise funds for a life-saving operation on their severely handicapped brother, Madi, the young Ayoub risks ambush or arrest as a smuggler, while his sister sells herself into a loveless marriage.
It's highly emotive stuff, yet Ghobadi's unflinchingly realist approach and the guileless performances ensure that neither the kids' exploitation nor their devotion contains a shred of sentimentality.