Thursday, September 17, 2015
Stranger (aka Zhat) (2015) Toronto 2015
After Ilyas's father is carried off by Soviet authorities, someone comes and steals their horse to feed his family. When other families offer to take him in he decides to take the remaining pony and hightail it into the wilderness. Living alone on the fringes of society he watches as Stalin and society change the world he knew and the lives of his friends.
Quiet small scale epic film about, among other things, how removing ourselves from society doesn't always mean that we won't be swallowed up by it.This is a film that will echo the work of Parajanov, Tarkovsky, Kurosawa, Boorman and others (you man probably throw in the 1970's Hollywood mini boom of man in the wilderness films) but at the same time it will remains firmly in it's own world.
After an opening 15 minutes where Ilyas's father teaches him how to survive off the land and events driv him off into the wilderness, the film suddenly wratchets everything up a couple of notches as we see one of the most haunting title images I've ever seen and we watch the young man struggle to survive. By the time the adult Ilyas appears I was hooked and ready to follow the film where ever it wanted to go.
As much as I would like to take the time to discuss the politics and social implications of the film, I'm going to take raincheck. Its not that I can't do it, it's just that I need to see the film again in order to full grasp everything that is going on beyond the surface. This is neither just a simple story of survival nor is it just a political art film. It is in fact a combination of the two things and watching it the first time I was just watching this for the story of Ilyas, I wasn't paying attention to all of the other things going on.
I need to see this film again, preferably on a HUGE screen.
This is a great film.
If you need something beyond that- this is a film that I would be very happy to see on the Oscar short list.
The film World Premiered a little while ago at Toronto and it has two more screening:
Fri Sep 18, 9:30am public screening, Scotiabank 14
Sat Sep 19, 10:30am public screening, Scotiabank 10
If you miss those this will be coming to a theater near you real soon. (Its too good a film not to)