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The President and his family rule the land with a draconian fist, enjoying a privileged and luxurious existence at the expense of his miserable and oppressed subjects. After a coup d'etat uproots his position of power, the President's wife and daughters are flown out of the country as he stays behind with his grandson, who is too young to grasp the unfolding events. After his personal escort and bodyguards turn on him, he is forced to disguise himself and flee into the countryside to avoid capture. He soon learns that he is now the country's most wanted fugitive and begins a perilous journey with his grandson, his only ally. Posing as street musicians, the pair blend in with a band of haggard political prisoners just released from jail as they travel towards the coast to an awaiting ship that will take them to safety.
WINNER - Best Film - Chicago Int'l Film Festival
NOMINATED - Best Film - London Film Festival
NOMINATED - Best Film - Venice Int'l Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Opening Night Film - Venice Int'l Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Rio de Janeiro Int'l Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Busan Int'l Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Talinn Black Nights Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Hong Kong Int'l Film Festival
OFFICIAL SELECTION - Galway Film Fleadh ---
Perhaps even Mohsen Makhmalbaf's most devoted admirers weren't expecting his latest film - opening the Festival's Orrizonti sidebar section - to be quite so absorbing and gripping. But that's what it is, and the director discloses a unsuspected gift for satire and suspense, along with some old-fashioned storytelling gusto. --The Guardian
Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf has cranked up the voltage from his trademark stately style in this newsworthy drama. --Time Out
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Then the people just crack over his latest outrage and a revolution kicks off; as he has been detached from reality for so long he is unaware quite how bad things are and elects to stay to sort out the kerfuffle. His grandson – a mere boy- also wants to stay with him, and grandpops relents. Soon they are on their own and having to survive by their wits.
Now this is a film made in Georgian and the sub titles could have been better, but it has a momentum right from the start that just grips you and makes you want to go for the ride. The performances are excellent, the action sequences realistic and often brutal. The fi.th and detritus that we see as the plot unfolds can be quite moving too. Add to al of that a very humanist story and you get a well made, conceived and presented original piece of cinema.
The fact that this is a fictional country means, that it is not penned in by the constraints of history and so is free to concentrate on the human side of the story. This also means that we avoid political dogma and just see what extremism can do to people. Well worth a punt even if you are half curious as I strongly feel you will not be disappointed.
I don’t like spoilers (I point that out in all my Amazon reviews) but I haven’t given away any info you won’t learn in the first 5 minutes of this 115-minute film. I’ll leave you to discover the rest for yourself.
The film is supposed to be a “satire” of Dictators but I found nothing to even remotely laugh it. There is LOTS of graphic violence here. The ending will leave some satisfied and others not. It’s that kind of film. It was filmed in Georgia with a huge group of extras. The two leads (the “President” and his grandson – I can’t remember the young actor’s name) are both excellent. How the young boy remembers that much dialogue still amazes me.
The film won a lot of film festival awards including the best film at the Chicago International Film Festival in 2015.
The DVD has English subtitles which are generally easy to read. It has four bonus features. Two are deleted scenes, one is the theatrical trailer and the last is a 20-minute “Making of The President” featurette. Usually these “Making of” extras feature the cast and the production team being interviewed. Not this time. This is literally footage of the director instructing his Cast and extras in major scenes. He speaks in English and has a translator to turn it in to Georgian. There are no English subtitles here so you only hear the Director’s words in English. And none of the cast members are identified with captions. It’s sort of interesting, but no essential.
The DVD will not be released until September 27, 2016 but I was provided with an advance screening copy in exchange for an impartial and honest review.
I’ve reviewed two other Corinth Films in the last two weeks. While I “liked” this film, I did not “lovbe it” as I did the others. But everything can’t get five stars. It is worth checking out though.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.