This bright jewel of a film is a cross-cultural masterpiece that touches the heart and reveals the universality of familial love and the determination of children to make do even in the most dire circumstances. For the talented Iranian writer and director Majid Majidi, less is more and little things make all the difference in the world.

On the way home from doing various errands in Teheran, nine-year-old Ali loses the newly repaired shoes of his younger sister Zahra. Since his father is five months overdue in paying the rent for their one-room home, the little boy doesn't want to tell him the bad news. So he and Zahra must share a pair of his worn-out sneakers: she uses them for morning classes at school, then runs to meets him so he can wear them for his afternoon at school. All this running around puts a strain on them and adds to the household tension. Some of it is eased when Ali and his father travel by bike to the richer part of the city to do some gardening. Eventually, the energetic boy signs up for a race in which the third prize is a new pair of sneakers.

In the world of children, small gestures and simple activities take on great meaning. Majid Majidi unravels these with careful attention — a perilous encounter with an angry schoolmaster, a moment of enchantment blowing bubbles, a time of panic when a sneaker falls in an active sewage drain, and the soothing comfort of cooling feet in the courtyard pond. Children of Heaven is a sheer delight from start to finish.