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A Time for Drunken Horses – Movie Review *** 07/21/2013

Posted by dbinder in Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Independent Spirit Awards, Kurdish language film, Movies, National Board of Review.
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A TIME FOR DRUNKEN HORSES (Iranian) 2000 ***
Zamani barayé masti asbha

Written and directed by Bahman Ghobadi
Starring Ayoub Ahmadi, Rojin Younessi, Amaneh Ekhtiar-dini, and Madi Ekhtiar-dini

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, FIPRESCI Prize, WINNER, Golden Camera, both Ghobadi, Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Special Jury Prize, Chicago International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, Independent Spirit Awards
WINNER, Freedom of Expression Award; WINNER, NBR Award-Top Foreign Films, National Board of Review, USA

In a Kurdish family living at the border between Iran and Iraq, 12-year-old Ayoub becomes the head of the household of four siblings when his father dies. His brother Madi is severely handicapped and needs immediate medical attention. Rojin, the older daughter, is forced into an arranged marriage in order to get the money for his surgery, but Ayoub chooses to enter the dangerous world of smuggling across the border.

It’s difficult to explain the story behind A Time for Drunken Horses without making it seem like something you might not want to watch. The film is commonly called heartbreaking (and it is), as viewers are given an intimate glimpse of life in this harshly beautiful area of the world. The children, who are not professional actors, will draw you immediately into their world of struggles and strengths.

I’ve also seen (and recommend) the very different 2009 film by director Bahman Ghobadi, called No One Knows About Persian Cats, about a band trying to leave Iran. I’ll post it sometime soon.

*** Highly recommended.

80 min. Not rated. Difficult subject matter.


Vodka Lemon-Movie Review 11/23/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Armenian language film, Comedy, Kurdish language film, Light Drama, Movies, Romance, Russian language film.
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Vodka Lemon (Armenian/Russian/Kurdish) 2003

Winner, San Marco Prize, Best Film Award, Venice Film Festival
Jury Award, Feature Film/Best Actor, Newport Beach Film Festival
Official Selection, Seattle; Palm Springs; Toronto Film Festivals

Directed by Hiner Saleem
Starring Romen Avinian and Lala Sarkissian

A whimsical tale about the romance that develops between Hamo (Avinian) and Nina (Sarkissian), an older couple who live in a bleak and impoverished Kurdish village in Armenia. Despite the hardships faced by both, Hamo and Nina’s feelings of love and happiness grow.

Vodka Lemon is the name of a drink sold at a stand in the middle of nowhere – or so it seems in the flat and snow-covered landscape. The backdrop of an imposing mountain range rises above all, but its majestic beauty doesn’t extend to the day-to-day lives of those living below. There is very little dialogue in the film, sometimes none at all during an entire short scene, but beautiful music and songs, some in French, add to the lighthearted nature of the tale.

The DVD includes liner notes with an interesting interview with the director. He quotes his grandfather: “Our past is sad, our present is catastrophic, but fortunately we have no future.” This film belies the negativism of that statement and is a lovely tribute to the spirit of the Armenian Kurdish community.

88 min. Not rated.