Azerbaijan. 2017. 90 min
Old and infirm, Shamil is now unable to look after the large pomegranate orchard extending beyond the modest family homestead in rural Azerbaijan. His daughter-in-law Sara and her young son Jalal are unlikely to help him care for the ancient trees in the future, so it looks as if the family may have to give up their only real source of trade. The lazy progression of sultry summer days is disrupted by the unexpected return of Shamil’s son Gabil, who fled the village without warning twelve long years ago and wasn’t heard from again. The deep emotional scars he left on his father, his wife and their son can’t be erased from one day to the next… As this private family drama unfurls, we discover the reasons for Gabil’s sudden departure only gradually, in keeping with the leisurely pace of the camera as it pans across the picturesque surroundings. However, the wrongs of the past continue to simmer uneasily beneath the veneer of this innocent landscape, and it is only a question of time before they break the surface.
Ilgar Najaf (b. 1975, Armenia, USSR), and his family were expelled from Armenia after the ethnic conflict in 1988, and he became a refugee at the age of thirteen. From 1993 to 1997 he studied film and TV direction at the Azerbaijan State University of Culture and Arts. He began as a documentarist, turning out Shacks without Shades (Kölgəsiz komalar, 2000) and There Exists an Old Man (Bir qoca var…, 2002), and he also made shorts (Theatrical Life / Teatral həyat, 2009, Silver Remi from Houston’s WorldFest). He established Buta Film in 2004. His feature film debut Buta (2011), the tale of a seven-year-old boy living with his grandma in a mountain village, depicts traditional rural life unmarked by the frenzy of the modern age. The film won awards at several festivals, among them the Houston WorldFest and the Isfahan IFF, and it was also Azerbaijan’s submission to the Academy Awards.
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