Release year: 2010
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Iranian filmmaker Jafar Pinahi's debut feature The White Balloon tells the story of Razieh (Aida Mohammadkhani), a seven-year-old girl intent on buying a new goldfish in time for Tehran's annual New Year's Day festivities (in Iranian culture, the goldfish is a symbol of life).
Upon badgering her mother into giving her a 500-toman banknote, Razieh heads off to the marketplace alone; it is her first real experience away from her parents' watchful eyes, and the excitement and wonder she feels is palpable.
Told in real time, the film's sensitive portrayal of Razieh's wide-eyed misadventures superbly conveys the impact which an otherwise unremarkable chain of events can indelibly leave upon the life of a child.
Her struggle to prove her independence is dramatically undercut when she loses the banknote not once but twice, but her spirit and ingenuity nevertheless remain indefatigable.