The Wonderful Kingdom of Papa Alaev (2016) DOC NYC 2016 and Gold Coast Film Festival 2016

Life under a benevolent dictator is still life under a dictator. And as bad as it is in a country, it can be worse when it’s your own family.

THE WONDERFUL KINGDOM OF PAPA ALAEV is the story of Alaev a musician with his large family. Playing a bouncy upbeat folk music he emigrated to Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union and set out to conquer the world. As sweet as Alaev seems there is tension in the house, caused by his in ability to see anyone’s needs outside of his own. Most of his children and grandkids yes him to death, but he broke with one his daughters when she left the fold to get a job to keep the family afloat right after their move to Israel. It’s a rift that still festers.

While far from a dark film it’s not a completely happy film. We see the schisms in the family that it’s patriarch doesn’t. While he is struggling to keep everyone together on his terms it’s pretty clear that once he goes the family band wil fragment. Everyone is there for him, and once he’s gone things are going to change. I do have to say that while I like – I’m not a fan of how he treats his one daughter- even after there is attempt at reconciliation.

I really like this film. I think it’s a great portrait of a family and it’s patriarch (even if some of the details of some transgressions and events are left unexplained.) I absolutely love the music which ties it all together and helps to keep the film from getting too dark. I like the film so much I came very close to putting it on the DOC NYC list of must sees but I hesitated simply because the film has so much to think about that almost a week after seeing it I’m still pondering the film. (And I am pondering and rewriting from scratch this review over and over again). If it’s not a must see it is definitely a should see and it is one of the best films at DOC NYC and the Gold Coast Film Festival

The film plays November 13 at DOC NYC  Buy Tickets here; and on November 15 at The Gold Coast Film Festival. Buy Tickets here.

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