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The Bakhtiari Alphabet

Set in the breathtaking Zagros Mountains of Southwest Iran, the Bakhtiari Alphabet documents the seasonal migration of the proud, ancient Bakhtiari tribe as they face challenges and celebrate daily triumphs in their struggle to maintain their richly textured culture in the face of 21st century encroachments on their practices and traditions. 

The idea of a film started when Cima Sedigh, professor of Education at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut began researching, in 2001, forms of tribal education in Iran.  She started with the Bakhtiari, who are the most prominent nomadic community in Iran.  The epic seasonal journey of the Bakhtiari was first introduced to the world in 1925 by ' Grass: A Nation's Battle for Life' which documents the migration of 50,000 Bakhtiaris and is considered a masterpiece of silent documentary. 

The Bakhtiari Alphabet picks up where “Grass” had left off 75 years earlier. The film starts with examining the ABC of tribal life and the requirements of migration and then moves to investigating the tribal education system of the Bakhtiaris. It also examines how tribal education impacts tribal life, especially amongst girls.

And there were the adventures and the challenges.  A first time producer-director on a tight budget, Cima Sedigh had to work with a skeleton crew and minimal equipment and resources.  So, Reza Ghadyani aside from directing was also the sole cameraman, soundman, and lighting technician. The outcome was a colourful documentary about the largest nomadic community in Iran.

In the this multi-media report Cima Sedigh explains the concept behind the film and how it was produced. The English narration of the documentary used in the report is read by Dr. Edward Malin, Director of School of Education at Sacred Heart University.




This report was first published on Jadidonline on 02.12.2010.

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