Director: Amir Naderi
Production: Tehran Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults; colour, 35mm; running time: 94 minutes.
Executive producer: Fathola Dalili; screenplay: Amir Naderi, Behruz Gharibpur; photography: Firuz Malkzadeh; editor: Bahram Beyza'i; assistant director: Mohammmad Hassanzadeh; production design: Gholam Reza Ramezani; sound: Nezam-e-Din Kia'i.
Cast: Majid Nirumand (Amiro); Musa Torkizadeh (Musa); A. Gholamzadeh (Uncle Gholam); Reza Ramezani (Ramezan).
Variety (New York), 2 October 1985.
Sabouraud, F., "L'enfant double," in Cahiers du Cinéma (Paris), December 1986. Glaessner, Verina, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), August 1988.
Skrien (Amsterdam), April-May 1990.
* * *
Dawandeh follows the day-to-day life of 13-year-old Amiro. The boy ekes out a living amongst the underclass of an Iranian port community. Depicting the details of his life—collecting bottles discarded from ships, shining shoes, and at home on a derelict boat on the shoreline—this is a remarkable story of a boy who rises above all odds to better himself.
Amiro is charged with a will to survive: in addition to struggling to earn enough money to feed himself, he takes himself to school for literacy classes. Everything to the boy is a challenge, and the almost palpable spark within him drives him onward in his quest for triumph. Amiro yearns for things outside his grasp: he runs along the shoreline shouting and waving at the great ships; he's fascinated by a light plane he sees at a local aerodrome and is overjoyed to see it take off, seemingly able to whisk people away from his reality of grinding poverty to a new world.
To overcome the difficulties of his life, Amiro learns to outrun his adversaries. When he joins a gang of boys collecting bottles dumped from ships and bobbing about in the shallows, he learns the quickest worker can collect the most—a lesson not without cost, he discovers, as his speed at this task leads to a fight with one of the regular collectors. Another of his attempts to earn a living is selling iced water to the dock workers. This involves buying ice some distance away from the port and running back with it. Amiro's running skills and determination are proven when he is able to wrest the melting ice away from an adult thief.
Amiro must pay for everything in his life: the inner-tube he uses to float out into the bay for the bottle collection, the ice to sell on the port, and even a burnt-out light bulb with which to decorate his makeshift home in an attempt to emulate the "glamour" of the outdoor cafe where he is a shoeshine boy. When one of the customers at the cafe accuses Amiro of stealing his lighter, the boy is aghast at this allegation, as he is innately honest.
This story of a poverty-ridden existence is superbly realised by director Amir Naderi, not only because it is an autobiographical account of his childhood, but also because the filmmaking is of such a high standard. Majid Nerimand as Amiro is wonderful, bringing real feeling and acting skill to his role. Naderi obviously knows his locale intimately and this shows in the film. We see life from Amiro's point of view and accept it for what it is. We have the insider's view of this world and the film gains from that—the unpretentious, yet intimate, forum is Dawandeh's strongest quality.