Close Up

27 March 2022: The Runner


The Runner
Amir Naderi, 1984, 92 min
Persian with English subtitles
UK premiere of the restored version

Introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht

"Amir Naderi's autobiographical masterpiece about Amiro, an orphaned teenager trying to better his life by learning to read, was the first post-revolutionary Iranian film to be seen internationally and mark the beginning of a steady wave of great films to emerge from that country in the 80s and 90s. Breathtakingly edited by Iranian New Wave pioneer, director and writer Bahram Beyzaie, the film remains both open – as its Persian Gulf landscapes – and abstract, as its protagonist's struggle to understand and conquer a world full of hostility and indifference." – Ehsan Khoshbakht  

"An astonishing piece of film-making in which Naderi's harsh account of modern poverty supports passages of extravagant but unsentimental lyricism. Young Nirumand (as Amiro) gives a performance to make Rossellini weep." – Pierre Hodgson  

"Amir Naderi’s The Runner blew my mind when I saw it at a retrospective for him at the Lincoln Center in New York in 2000. Naderi’s decision to shoot in a simple neorealist style resonated with me deeply. I was absolutely affected as a spectator and enormously influenced as a filmmaker by its poetry and Naderi’s depiction of the resilience of the human spirit. The Runner tells the story of a young boy, Amiro (played by Majid Niroumand), who lives by collecting bits and pieces of scrap from a city rubbish dump and bottles washed ashore by passing cruise ships. The title of the film comes from the game he and his friends (and competitors) play, racing against each other to try to touch the end of an accelerating train as it leaves the station. Amiro is fascinated by the local airport and decorates his room with pictures of airplanes ripped from magazines. As a filmmaker, I dream of being able to follow a simple story with as much conviction, love, and strength as Naderi. – Annemarie Jacir

Special thanks to Amir Naderi

Never on Sunday is a series of screenings of rare classics, archive masterpieces, obscure delights and forgotten gems carefully curated and introduced by Ehsan Khoshbakht and taking place the last Sunday of each month at Close-Up.