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#43: Boys With Broken Ears

Directed by: Nima Shayeghi
2013 / 78 mins
Persian with English Subtitles

BOYS WITH BROKEN EARS is an intimate look at the hopes and struggles of a handful of young Iranian wrestlers as they prepare for the biggest event of their lives; the world championship in Europe. It’s a social tale set against the qualms of committing one’s life to a dream at a young age.

With unprecedented access to the national youth team, the film follows five characters from impoverished backgrounds as they journey through the most challenging year of the lives, examining their beliefs and aspirations along the way.

Wrestling is a very popular sport in Iran with historical roots in the country’s religion and mythology. It is like football for the Brazilians or boxing for the Cubans. Iran has consistently produced outstanding world champions that have gone on to win gold and silver at the Olympics despite very little financial support from the government. However, almost all wrestlers come from the slums and poverty-stricken districts and wrestling have provided a very slim chance to make something of their lives. As a result, two million youngsters try to make it to the national youth team every year, but only a handful do, most of whom find themselves in an uncompromising situation of having to hold down jobs to help their families survive while also spending all their time training to keep their dreams alive.

Caught in this crossroads between a sport they love and the realities of their harsh circumstances they soon realize that even with a gold medal their lives will hardly change, and this dream is a luxury that they cannot afford.

The film at its core is a human story, but it is loaded with themes of social identity in Iran and the confrontation of traditional and modern values. All this is set against each character’s decision whether to continue pursuing this love or not.