Sunday, July 1, 2012

Two gems from the International DVD Collection

I recently discovered two quietly powerful films in our International DVD section.

 The first, August Evening, (in Spanish with English subtitles) tells the story of Jaime, an aging undocumented farm worker in south Texas.  Misfortunes strikes and, in quick succession, Jaime loses his job, his wife dies, and he is evicted from his home.  His most loyal companion is his daughter-in-law, Lupe, the widow of a son who was killed in an automobile accident.  Together they travel to San Antonio where Jaime's other two children live.  They find themselves somewhat less than welcome.

In many poignant scenes, the film explores the generational divide that often develops in immigrant families and the strained family relationships that result.  Both Lupe and Jaime face uncertain futures, but the possibility for joy remains.

The Song of Sparrows [Avaze gonjeshk-ha, in Farsi with English subtitles], directed by Majid Majidi, is set in a rural village in Iran.  Karim, an impoverished farmer, is beset by difficulties.  He loses his job at an ostrich farm when one of the birds under his care escapes.  The very same day, his teen-age daughter accidentally drops her hearing aid into the village's muck-filled water storage tank.

The Song of Sparrows can be seen as a parable.  Karim journeys to Tehran to get the hearing aid repaired but while in the teeming city he loses his way and falls into temptation.  He finds work and succumbs to the grotesque materialism of the big city.  Gradually, gently, his family will lure him back and save him from this "hell," though, of course, there will be a price to pay.  There are many comic moments in this film and some heart-breaking ones as well.

The International film collection at The Urbana Free Library is a veritable treasure chest -- Check it out!

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