Both films are on the festival’s Hold Review List, which means that at this point in time, I have to review the films in 100 words or less.
Gonzalo Tamayo (Álvaro Ogalla, who also co-wrote the screenplay) wants to separate completely from the Catholic Church that he had no choice being baptized into as a baby. But the Holy Bureaucracy makes this very difficult; they refuse to remove the record of his baptism. That anti-religious setup is just a backbone to a study of a young man sleeping around (with his own cousin) and avoiding responsibilities. A good, but not exceptional, character study about a 30-something trying desperately to not grow up.
This was the festival’s final screening of The Apostate. But since it’s on the Hold Review list, there’s a good chance of it getting an American release.
This may be the best documentary I’ve seen since Hoop Dreams. It examines the dilemma of Sonita Alizadeh, a teenage refugee from Afghanistan living in Iran. She wants to be a rapper, and has the talent and determination to succeed. But her mother wants to sell her to a potential husband back home in Afghanistan; she needs the money to buy her son a bride. (By comparison, Iran comes off as an enlightened society–but only by comparison.) A moving, suspenseful true story about one amazing person and the millions in plights much like hers.
Director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami gave a brief talk before the screening, where she gushed that she’d “never saw this movie in such a beautiful theater,” and that she wanted to live in San Francisco.
Two highlights from her Q&A after the movie:
- On what Sonita is doing now: She’s focused on activism and ending child marriage. She’s traveling to tell her story.
- On Sonita’s mother, who comes off as the film’s villain: This is all she has experienced in her life. If you have been sold, all the women in your community has been sold… how can I expect her to be a rebel. She’s just a product of the culture and she’s a good Mom.