Hilal - ages 13+ - Ajyal Youth Film Festival 2014
Macondo, a refugee camp in the Simmerging district of Vienna, houses about 3,000 asylum-seekers from 22 different countries. German-born Iranian director Sudabeh Mortezai’s debut fiction feature focuses on Ramasan, an 11-year-old Chechen refugee, who does his best to take care of his widowed mother and his younger sisters. When a stranger turns up, saying he is a friend of Ramasan’s late father, conflicting feelings overwhelm the boy, and his life is turned upside down.
Avoiding touristy or picturesque views of Vienna, Mortezai fixes her camera on the little boy as he wanders among the drab prefab structures of the refugee camp as if it were a no man’s land – fearful of the wolves that perhaps linger in the nearby woods, but even more suspicious of the adults he encounters. The director’s documentary background is clear from her realist, fly-on-the-wall approach to the story, whose almost unscripted feel allows the non-professional actors to breathe and move as in real life.
Rather than providing any explicit social or political commentary, ‘Macondo’ is a beautiful, sensitive portrait of a fatherless boy who tries to understand what it means to become a man in a foreign, hostile environment. The film had its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival.
About the Director
Sudabeh Mortezai was born to Iranian parents in Ludwigsburg, Germany, in 1968. She grew up in Tehran and Vienna, where she studied theatre, film and media science. She studied film at the University of California, Los Angeles, then made several short films and documentaries, including ‘Children of the Prophet’ (2006). ‘Macondo’, her first narrative feature, premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2014.
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