Children of Heaven
Found in: Iranian films
Children of Heaven is a 1997 Iranian film. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1998. It deals with a brother and sister and their adventures over a lost pair of shoes.
Ali takes his little sister Zahra's shoes to the shoemaker to be repaired, but loses them on the way home. The siblings decide to keep the predicament a secret from their parents, knowing that there is no money to buy a replacement pair and fearing that they will be punished. They devise a scheme to share Ali's sneakers: Zahra will wear them to school in the morning and hand them off to Ali at midday so he can attend afternoon classes. This uncomfortable arrangement leads to one adventure after another as they attempt to hide the plan from their parents and teachers, attend to their schoolwork and errands, and acquire a new pair of shoes for Zahra. Zahra sees the shoes on a schoolmate's feet, and follows her home, but the two soon become friends.
Ali enters a high-profile children's footrace in the hope of receiving the third prize of a new pair of sneakers. He accidentally places first and wins another prize instead. The film ends with Zahra finding out that she will not get a new pair of shoes, but there is a quick shot of their father's bicycle at the end of the movie that shows what appears to be the red shoes Zahra had been focusing on earlier and another pair of white sneakers, presumably for Ali, whose old sneakers were torn from so much use. The film ends with the final shot showing blisters on Ali's feet. Some versions include an epilogue revealing that Ali eventually achieves the larger-scale success of having a racing career.
Background and critical response
The film was shot in Tehran. It was attempted to keep the filming secret in order to capture a more realistic image of the city. The production costs have been estimated at US$ 180,000.
Children of Heaven premiered in February 1997 at the Teheran Fajr Film Festival and was awarded several national film awards. It started in the US on 22 January 1999, with a total US box office result of $930,000. After the film had become well-known worldwide due to the Oscar nomination, it was shown in several European, South American, and Asian countries between 1999 and 2001.
Critical response to the film was very positive. Some critics compared it to Vittorio de Sica's 1948 Bicycle Thieves. The few negative voices found fault in a too simplistic storyline and unanswered questions in the movie. Roger Ebert's review in the Chicago Sun-Times called it "very nearly a perfect movie for children" that "lacks the cynicism and smart-mouth attitudes of so much American entertainment for kids and glows with a kind of good-hearted purity" .
In 1998, the film was the first Iranian film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but lost to the Italian film Life Is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni.
It was successfully shown on numerous film festivals and won awards at the Fajr Film Festival, the World Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, the Warsaw International Film Festival, and the Singapore International Film Festival. It was nominated for the Jury's Grand Prize at the American Film Institute's festival.
Homerun, a 2003 Singaporean film by Jack Neo, is an adaptation of Children of Heaven. Unlike Children of Heaven, ''Homerun'stheme is friendship and the film is set in Singapore in 1965. Homerunreceived two nominations at the 2003 Golden Horse Awards, for Best Theme Song and Best New Performer (Megan Zheng). Megan Zheng, then 10 years old, became the first Singaporean to win a Golden Horse Award, sharing her Best New Performer award with Wang Baoqiang, who plays a miner in Blind Shaft''.
This film story has been copied, and has been completely used by 'Only Kidding Films and Entertainment pvt ltd.' of India who produced a film Salaam bacche in 2007 with exactly the same story without acquiring copyrights; however the movie was not successful.