Today’s goat of the day comes from the film Ski-baz, or The Skier. The Skier was directed and written by Fereidoun Najafi. The film follows the day in the life of Jolie, a small boy in red wellies who lives in rural, southwest Iran amongst the Bakhtiari tribes. Jolie has cared for a mountain goat that wandered into his village to escape wolves; however, a death in his family network has made his parents wish for it to be sacrificed in a traditional funerary ceremony. To not sacrifice the goat would be to dishonour his family and imbalance important economic distinctions between groups. Jolie is also on a quest to get enough money to buy some new skis so he can compete in a skiing competition, which will give him enough money to potentially keep the goat.
The main theme was not animal rights or coming of age; rather, the steady creep of globalization and change against traditional, tribal values. The Bakhtiari people have long inhabited the southwest corner of Iran as pastoralists, although the number of nomadic pastoralists has significantly dwindled. According to legend, some believe they were descended from Cyrus the Great of Persia. Sheep, goats and their associated by-products are a large part of the traditional economy of the Bakhtiari, but in a world increasingly connected by technology many values fade along with the nomadism. In some ways this is good, for example women can move more freely throughout society. In other ways, letting go of old traditions is sad. By the end of the film, Jolie had seemed to have moved on from his pet goat onto his next quest across the snowy hills. The Skier was nominated for a Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Best Youth Feature Film in 2017.
The balance between the old while welcoming the new can be difficult. As an anthropologist, I really enjoyed this film and learning about this part of the world. As a goat enthusiast, I wish that there had been more goats.
Note: Until today, all of the goats have been from my own personal photos. Today’s goat of the day comes from a picture from the film.