Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:41 am 
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The long way out, on cell phones

When the Taliban put a bounty price on the Afghan director and "Art Café" owner Hassan Fazili's head, he was forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Denied asylum when in Tajikistan, deported back to Afghanistan, they decide fo flee to the West. This is how he shot his two-year journey o Europe with his wife and three young children, using only three cell phones to do the camerawork. The elder of the two girls, Nargis, is full of verve and imagination, wife Fatima Hussaini is a filmmaker too and a tough and vibrant woman. At some point they lose their patience and weep or burst with anger but the children still manage to play and be happy. Iran is a brief relief. Turkey a way-station. Bulgaria is ugly: there are attacks on refugees. A long stay in Serbian camp. (In between countries and camps they're on the run, and they have a horrible experience with a people-smuggler.) Some of the images are beautiful, many hum-drum. Fazili's professionalism and stamina as a filmmaker with such limited means are impressive throughout this long and patient slog. As a Hollywood Reporter review notes, there are lacunae and "seams" showing, and Fazili himself is somewhat absent as a personality.

Midnight Traveler, 90 mins., debuted at Sundance Jan. 2019; also Berlin and CPH:DOX, and the San Francisco International Film Festival, where it was screened for this preview. At the San Francisco awards, Midnight Traveler won the McBaine Documentary Feature Award with a $10,000 cash prize.

SFFILM showtimes:
Wed, Apr 17 at 6:30 pm SFMoMA
Thu, Apr 18 at 3:00 pm Creativity Theater
Fri, Apr 19 at 5:30 pm Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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