Films & Schedules

  • Two-Legged Horse
    Asbe Du-Pa

  • Samira Makhmalbaf

Persian, Uzbek
101 minutes

Production Company:
Makhmalbaf Film House/Wild Bunch
Mehrdad Zonnour
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Production Designer:
Akbar Meshkini
Farzad Jodat
Mohsen Makhmalbaf
Hossein Mahdavi
Tolibkhon Shahidi
Principal Cast: Ziya Mirza Mohamad, Haron Ahad, Gol Gotai Karimi, Khojeh Nader

Canadian Distributor:
International Sales Agent:
Wild Bunch

TIFF Tags: Abuse  Poverty 

Saturday September 0609:15PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Tuesday September 0912:00PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The Makhmalbaf phenomenon expands with every new picture that this talented family produces. Samira Makhmalbaf has already proven her talents with three remarkably poised films, and she now strikes out in interesting new directions. Like her other features, Two-Legged Horse is underpinned by notions of injustice. However, this new film diverges from her previous work, which looked at the kinds of injustices that society inflicts upon the individual, to craft a story about the abuses meted out between seeming equals: people from the same environment, and in this instance, the same age and sex.

The film is set in Afghanistan, in a region both remote and poor. Here, underprivileged children live in acute poverty in a maze of abandoned sewer pipes that provide meagre shelter. A father sets out to find someone who can attend to his severely disabled son, a young boy who is unable to walk; Mirvais, one of the inhabitants of the pipes, is willingly hired to carry the boy around on his back. It is not long, however, before Mirvais's simple duties are extended by his new young master. Mobile for the first time in years, the boy sees an opportunity to use Mirvais for his own ends.

This dynamic quickly leads to an increasingly sado-masochistic relationship between the two, which becomes gradually more disturbing as the film progresses. Mirvais is both literally and figuratively treated like an animal, humiliated and abused.

Two-Legged Horse is a deeply troubling piece of cinema, abetted by the mounting intensity of the situations and emotions it depicts. Makhmalbaf is unafraid of pushing her material to its limits, and she does so without compromise. In its sheer bravery, her film hits upon a reality that she confronts unflinchingly, as she brings new insight to the controversial subject of victimization. The metaphor is distressing, the film disconcerting. But then again, this is Afghanistan, and honesty is a necessity.

Dimitri Eipides

Samira Makhmalbaf was born in Tehran. She first became involved in cinema at the age of eight, when she appeared in The Cyclist (88), directed by her father, Mohsen. She later worked as an assistant director on his film The Silence (98). Her feature directing debut, The Apple (98), screened at the Festival in 1998. Her subsequent features, The Blackboard (00) and At Five in the Afternoon (03), received jury prizes at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Two-Legged Horse (08) is her most recent film.

Cadillac People's Choice Award