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STRAY DOGS aka SAG-HAYE VELGARD
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Gol-Ghotai, Zahed, Agheleh Rezaie, Sohrab Akbari, Jamil Ghanazideh, Agheleh Shamsollah, Sayyar, Maydeh Gol, Ghomri Valad Amir, Shah Mahmood Golbahari, Vakil, Akhtar Abdolaziz, Twiggy (dog)
Director: Marziyeh Meshkini
Countries: Iran / France
Language: Farsi (English subtitles)
UK: 93 mins
UK Certificate: 12A contains strong language
UK Release Date: 18 August 2006 (Limited Release - London, West End)
STRAY DOGS is the beautifully crafted and moving story of Gol Ghoti, Zahed and Twiggy; a girl, a boy and a dog in Afghanistan, just after the war has ended in 2001. The film is written and directed by Marziyeh Meshkini, the Iranian director of THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN, and premiered at the Venice Film Festival 2004, where it won the PREMIO OPEN. Meshkini gives us in STRAY DOGS an insight into post-Taliban Afghan life and focuses on the effects of poverty and oppression on the lives of women and children.
Gol Ghoti (around 5 years old) and her older brother Zahed live on the streets of Kabul. Their father, a Taliban, is in prison after having been away for more than five years. At night they stay with their mother, who is in another prison, where she awaits a trial for adultery - she married another man believing her first husband was dead. The children spend the night in prison with their mother, and during the day rummage through garbage in search of something useful they can sell. Gol Ghoti saves a dog from being killed by angry kids who believe it to be a western dog. The dog is good company, which they need as they aren't allowed to sleep in prison anymore. Desperate to return, they embark upon a series of failed robberies, until a fugitive tells them they can learn how to steal from Hollywood movies. Alternatively, a European film -THE BYCYCLE THIEVES-, can teach them how to be caught.
"I traveled to Afghanistan in 2002 as Samira's assistant director for At Five in the Afternoon. During location scouting we visited a prison in Kabul, where I met the children of female inmates who were living alongside their mothers as prisoners. At first I though they were also convicts, but learned that they had no home outside the prison, that they were forced to stay with their mothers at night and to leave in the morning to try and make money. This was the inspiration for Stray Dogs." Marziyeh Meshkini
Meshkini uses a documentary, neo realist style to film Afghan life after the Taliban, referring to the films made about the raw life in post war Italy. The trio of strays - Zahed, Gol Ghoti and their dog - represents an entire people searching for a means of survival in a world of confusion and strife.
Marziyeh Meshkini was born in Tehran in 1969, she studied cinema at Makhmalbaf's school from 1996 to 2001. She has been assistant director to Mohsen Makhmalbaf (whom she married) and Samira Makhmalbaf. In 2000 her film THE DAY I BECAME A WOMAN was presented at the Venice Film festival and won the Cinemavvenire Award, as well as other prizes at other film festivals around the world. Both Gol Ghoti and Zahed were adopted by the Makhmalbaf family.