Monthly Archives: February 2016

Film Review: Baba Joon

Film Review: Baba Joon

Some may find this hard to believe, but Israel’s foreign-language Oscar submission for 2016 is largely in Farsi. If you see the film, Yuval Delshad’s Baba Joon, you’ll understand. This is a coming-of-age story that could take place anywhere; it just happens to occur on a farming coop in the Negev.

The family in Baba Joon emigrated from Iran to Israel. Patriarch Baba (Rafael Faraj Eliasi) started a turkey farm, constructing the buildings with his own hands. He had two sons, Darius and Yitzhak. Darius fled to America rather than work on the farm, so Baba pressed Yitzhak into service.Baba Joon The Family

Now Yitzhak (Navid Negahban) has a son, thirteen-year-old Moti (Asher Avrahami). Moti is not much for turkeys, but he has a real knack for reviving dead cars. He wants to work as an auto mechanic when he is older.

Moti’s mother Sarah (Viss Elliot Safavi) is caught in the middle of this battle between ambition and tradition. Her task becomes even harder when Darius (David Diaan) shows up for a visit. Issues between the two brothers resurface and threaten to destabilize the entire family.

The story is semi-autobiographical. Writer/ director Delshad is the son of Iranian immigrants, and he grew up in a village much like the one in the film. (Baba Joon is a Persian term of endearment, typically used by a child toward a father.)Baba Joon Yitzhak & Moti

Likewise, many of the actors are Jewish and Iranian-born. Rafael Faraj Eliasi (Baba) and Asher Avrahami (Moti), both making their acting debuts here, are from the same small agricultural village in southern Israel.

“I looked for actors that would be Iranian and would share something in the characters I created,” Delshad explained. “The world they come from is the world of the story.”[1]

Delshad and his company have created a something special. The struggles between Moti and Yitzhak will be familiar to anyone who has ever been a child or a parent.Baba Joon Yitzhak & Baba

The cinematography by Ofer Inov is stunning. Besides views of the Negev, you get an up-close look at what it is like to raise turkeys. The beak-clipping scene is particularly effective.

Eyal Saeed Mani composed the score, utilizing ancient Persian instruments such as the tar, santur, zarb, and kamancheh. It complements the film perfectly.Baba Joon Synagogue

Baba Joon didn’t make the short list for the Academy Awards, but it won five Ophirs (Israeli Oscars), including best film. I recommend checking it out.

Theme: Different Dreams

Related Posts: Film Appreciation: October Sky  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/film-appreciation-october-sky/

Different Dreams: List For Week Ending Feb. 28, 2016  http://www.thinkingcinema.com/different-dreams-list-for-week-ending-february-28-2016/

[1] http://www.jta.org/2014/07/07/arts-entertainment/for-iranian-born-actors-israels-first-farsi-movie-carries-echo-of-lost-home

Film Review: Look At Us Now, Mother!

Film Review: Look At Us Now, Mother!

Look At Us Now, Mother! premieres in Washington, D.C as part of the Washington Jewish Film Festival. There will be a screening on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at 1:30 at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington. Details at https://www.wjff.org. Future screenings: http://www.lookatusnowmother.com/screenings.html “Did you ever feel like you were born into the wrong family?” ThisContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: October Sky

Film Appreciation: October Sky

October Sky is a rarity-an inspirational film that avoids becoming overly sentimental. The film is an adaptation of Rocket Boys: A Memoir, by Homer Hickam. It tells the story of Homer’s teenage years in the mining town of Coalwood, W.Va. Chris Cooper and seventeen-year-old Jake Gyllenhaal could not be better as the diametrically-opposed father andContinue Reading

Film Review: Mountains May Depart

Film Review: Mountains May Depart

Jia Zhangke’s new film, Mountains May Depart shows changes in recent Chinese culture via the story of three friends. The film is organized into three acts, each with its own time period (1999, 2014, and 2025) and aspect ratio, ranging from 1.33 (1999) to panoramic (2025). In the exuberant opening sequence, the friends dance inContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: The Magnificent Ambersons

Film Appreciation: The Magnificent Ambersons

Unlikely as it may seem, Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons from 1942 and Jia Zhangke’s 2015 Mountains May Depart have much in common. Both deal with changing societies. Both reflect those changes via their main characters, especially for interpersonal relationships. Mountains May Depart deals with China from 1999 to a projected 2025. It’s the relativelyContinue Reading

Film Review: Embrace Of The Serpent

Film Review: Embrace Of The Serpent

Ciro Guerra’s mesmerizing film Embrace Of The Serpent is also groundbreaking. It’s the first non-documentary in 30 years to be shot in the Colombian Amazon. Embrace Of The Serpent is the first Colombian film with an indigenous protagonist-and his point of view drives the narrative. The formal story relates two episodes in the life ofContinue Reading

Film Appreciation: Tabu

Film Appreciation: Tabu

This week’s theme, Paradise In Peril, might appear to be ancillary in the story line of F.W. Murnau’s 1931 film Tabu. A lot of pre-production issues that don’t appear in the finished film make Tabu a good companion to this week’s review film, Embrace Of The Serpent. Murnau’s writing partner on this project, Robert J.Continue Reading