Friday, April 19, 2024

“IN THE LAND OF BROTHERS”

THE STORY – Three members of an extended Afghan family start their lives over in Iran as refugees, unaware they face a decades-long struggle ahead to be “at home.”

THE CAST – Hamideh Jafari, Bashir Nikzad & Mohammad Hosseini

THE TEAM – Raha Amirfazli & Alireza Ghasemi (Directors/Writers)

THE RUNNING TIME – 95 Minutes


Raha Amirfazli and Alireza Ghasemi are two promising new voices in Iranian cinema. Their debut film, “In the Land of Brothers,” aims to shed light on the harsh reality faced by almost five million Afghan refugees living in Iran. The film tells three interconnected stories that portray the challenges of starting over in an unwelcoming environment while also highlighting the resilience and strength of the Afghan people. The story follows three members of one family over 30 years as they face threats of police brutality, deportation, and further war. The Afghan actors deliver powerful and humanistic performances, making the film an emotional journey that explores the search for a place to call home.

The film begins with a quote stating that Iran is called “The Land of their Brothers,” but the Afghan refugees who live there aren’t treated anything like brothers. It follows an Afghan family in Iran, whose story is separated into chapters. The first takes place in 2001 and follows Mohammad (Mohammad Hosseini). Just a teenager and living on a tomato farm with his family, he is arrested outside of school for not having an ID. Through Mohammad’s story, you get an early glimpse of how Iran never feels like a home to newcomers, as they constantly look over their shoulders. When unable to present his ID, Mohammad and many other Afghan men are made to work at the police station, whether filing paperwork or plastering walls. He keeps his work at the station a secret to avoid putting his family, like his father, in danger. Although Mohammad remains quite stoic throughout, you can feel his anger and frustration building up over the situation. Eventually, he resorts to drastic measures to get himself out of it.

The story then jumps to 2010, where we follow Leila (Hamideh Jafari), who used to live with Mohammad on the tomato farm. In the present, she has built a new life for herself. She has a beautiful house, is married, and has a young son. Suddenly, her husband dies, leaving her with the question of what to do. Because she has no insurance, she can’t go to the hospital, and calling the police might risk her deportation. To make things worse, she has a house full of guests, and it won’t be easy to hide her dead husband right under their noses. In this chapter, there are many powerful moments of wordless emotion as Leila tries not to let on that her world is essentially crumbling around her. The cinematography shines in this chapter, showing a stark contrast between Leila’s experience and that of her Iranian guests. Shot from the outside looking in, the top and bottom levels of the house are like two different worlds, with Leila’s guests laughing and singing below while she stands still above, frozen in shock and fear.

The third chapter jumps another ten years, looking at the life of Leila’s brother, Qasem (Bashir Nikzad). Like his sister, he has also built a home for himself with a wife and children. Upon learning that his son secretly joined Iran’s forces and has been killed in action in Syria, Qasem must decide whether or not to break the news to his wife. This chapter solidifies what the war in Afghanistan has done to these families and the secrets and lies they’ve had to keep to protect themselves and their loved ones.

“In the Land of Brothers” takes the audience on a journey to different parts of Iran, showcasing the country’s diverse landscapes throughout the seasons. While the transitions between stories can make the film feel incomplete, each chapter offers a unique perspective on the long-term impact of the war in Afghanistan on its people. Many have lost their youth and loved ones due to the conflict, but they find strength in their families and loved ones to cope with the trauma. This film is an inspiring and profound piece of work that sheds light on the experiences of Afghan refugees and offers a perspective of Iran that many viewers may not have seen before.

THE RECAP

THE GOOD - Raha Amirfazli and Alireza Ghasemi are two promising new voices in Iranian cinema, creating a profound piece of work that sheds light on the experiences of Afghan refugees and offers a perspective of Iran that many viewers may not have seen before.

THE BAD - The 10-year jump between each chapter can create the feeling that we're missing key details in between.

THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - Best International Feature Film

THE FINAL SCORE - 7/10

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Sara Clements
Sara Clementshttps://nextbestpicture.com
Writes at Exclaim, Daily Dead, Bloody Disgusting, The Mary Sue & Digital Spy. GALECA Member.

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<b>THE GOOD - </b>Raha Amirfazli and Alireza Ghasemi are two promising new voices in Iranian cinema, creating a profound piece of work that sheds light on the experiences of Afghan refugees and offers a perspective of Iran that many viewers may not have seen before.<br><br> <b>THE BAD - </b>The 10-year jump between each chapter can create the feeling that we're missing key details in between.<br><br> <b>THE OSCAR PROSPECTS - </b><a href="/oscar-predictions-best-international-feature/">Best International Feature Film</a><br><br> <b>THE FINAL SCORE - </b>7/10<br><br>"IN THE LAND OF BROTHERS"