This past week, Providence hosted its International Film Festival, a truly remarkable annual event. There is something so refreshing about these films, so different from your usual Hollywood films, where the same actors and directors are involved in all of the same movies. I also loved the fact that after many of the movies, the actors, producers, directors and writers were available for a ‘question and answer’ session. Here is the selection of films that I was lucky enough to catch…Ramchand Pakistani is an incredibly moving film, based on actual events, about a young Pakistani boy who crosses the India-Pakistan border, which results in his arrest and the arrest of his father, who goes looking for him. They are one of the lowest classes of Hinduism in a country where 97% of the population is Muslim and this raises suspicion upon their arrest and they spend the next four years in an Indian prison. During their captivity, their wife/ mother searches and waits endlessly, enduring her own struggles and hardships. This film was especially moving since my husband is Indian and I have come to learn much about the struggles between his home country and Pakistan.
Hakim is a short film, shot in Tanzania, about a one-year-old boy who is found crying in a mud hut, his mother having died from AIDS. The old man that finds him takes him to the village orphanage, which is under the care of Aga, an elderly woman with an inspirational way of dealing with these children who all have a low life expectancy. Through storytelling, she gives them hope and dreams of immortality. I loved this film because the orphanage scenes where so reminiscent of the orphanage that I taught at (and miss dearly) in Ghana.
Barstow is a town outside of LA and people seem to get stuck there on their way to ‘fame and fortune.’ High school senior Andrew Dayton is a smart and capable young man, with a completely irresponsible mother, Sandra, who keeps him tied to Barstow. Leaving Bartow is his story of having to choose between taking care of the ones he loves and daring to choose a better future. This is an incredible film from a young actor/ writer, Kevin Sheridan, whose name I think we will be hearing more of.
Happy New Year follows two friends, back from fighting in Iraq, coming together on New Years Eve. Cole wishes to end his life because of the severe injuries he suffered in Iraq, but he needs Link’s help to do so. A touching short film that provokes thought on the subject of veteran suicide.
A ten minute film, Sommersontag (Summer Sunday) is a heartbreaking story of a father who is in charge of lowering and raising a bridge for boats and trains and his young deaf, mute son. One day when the father brings his 7-year-old son to work with him, the boy wanders off into a dangerous restricted area. His father must choose whether to save his son or lower the bridge to prevent a fully occupied passenger train from drowning in the river. Absolutely heartbreaking, this haunting film will stay with me for a long time.