Submitted by Julio M

Oscar Nominee – Best International Feature Film

Short pooper:
Ali (Amir Farrokh Hashemian) ends up winning the race in first place and, to his sorrow and disappointment, he does not get the shoes he wanted for Zahra (Bahare Seddiqi); unbeknownst to him, however, their father (Reza Naji) actually buys them both new shoes.

Longer version:
The desperate attempt by Ali and his sister Zahra to conceal her lack of shoes from their severe father -by means of sharing Ali’s own pair; her, during the mornings and him, during the afternoons- proves to be exhausting, as Ali finds himself arriving late to class -while trying to catch up- many times in a row; as this was considered unacceptable, his teacher (Dariush Mokhtari) goes from warning him to demanding his father to come with him, which would force him to reveal the secret. He tearfully pleads with the teacher for one more chance, which, because he is otherwise a good child and gifted student, the teacher concedes.

Meanwhile, Zahra figures out one of the classmates, Roya (Nafise Jafar-Mohammadi), has her missing shoes; she tells Ali and they both consider confronting Roya and her father, whom, they discover, is blind and probably took by mistake the bag containing the shoes that started the whole situation. They drop the matter and continue with their scheme; but later on, Zahra finds out Roya’s father bought the girl new shoes and threw away the pink ones, which disheartens her.

Ali decides to help his father make some extra money by assisting him in a gardening endeavour, offering his services to rich families from the Northern end of the city of Tehran. As the man is a bit too rough around the edges to know how to introduce and sell himself, Ali uses his own verbal prowess to help promote his father; this works well for them. They get to work at this one mansion where a child named Alireza (Mohammed-Hossein Shahidi) and his Grandfather (Kazem Asqarpoor) live; the father does gardening while Ali entertains Alireza and the Grandfather rewards them handsomely. As they leave, they both comment about it and, as a casual thing, Ali mentions -seeing his father’s good mood- “how Zahra could use some new shoes”; he complies and considers buying the shoes. But an unexpected accident caused by the father’s bicycle’s brakes failing thwarts that, as the man is injured and cannot keep working.

Dejected and hopelessly considering telling Father the truth, Ali catches wind of a Provincial School Race taking place, where the third place prize happens to be a getaway… AND A PAIR OF NEW SHOES. Elated, he comments this to Zahra and expresses her the intention of strictly participating and putting himself in the position of winning that third place -despite being good enough of a runner to win first- so he could give her the shoes, which delights her.

The race takes place; Ali struggles to pace himself so that he can constantly fall behind his two closest competitors and let them get ahead in first and second place. Unfortunately, he ends up being faster than them and does win the first place of the race. He is enthusiastically announced as the top winner and given another price he did not care for, and is seen sad and despondent because he could not win the shoes he wanted for Zahra. In the end, his shoes having been torn from the race, he is seen soaking his feet, to relax and soothe them, in a pool. However, we see, in a separate scene, the Father coming home with two new pairs of shoes -one white and one pink- for the children, thus having kept his promise.

01 hours 29 minutes