Posted by Jsober on:
The first movie I went to at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival was a Tajikistani film called True Noon, directed by Nosir Saidov.
Set in the remote village of Safedobi, this is a story of a girl, Nilufar, and her uncle Kirill Ivanovich. Kirill is a scientist whose focus is on weather, and the relationship of the sun in the sky (true noon being the moment at which the sun is at its highest point in the sky during the year). Nilufar has been working as her uncle’s apprentice for years, a job that is inappropriate for her to continue after her upcoming wedding. So drama number one is how will they seek to keep her working and contributing in a field of work that she loves after her wedding. Life becomes much more complicated when the soviet Russians erect a barbwire fence through the middle of town making life for villagers much more difficult and the upcoming wedding seem impossible. So the tables turn and drama number two becomes the task of even performing this wedding. And all mixed into this story are the smuggling a pregnant woman across the new-formed border, newly installed landmines and the fear of social collapse when communication with the big city goes dead.
This is a captivating movie. The story is fun and emotional which keeps you waiting and watching for what might happen next. It is also filmed in a beautiful village, in which the brilliant color of the clothes and culture contrast with the ever-present muted earth tones. I didn't know anything about Tajikistan before this film but after the first twenty minutes you can tell that this country is wedged between vibrant and spicy India and cold war, European mother Russia. It starts bright and chromatic but becomes dull with the erection of the fence only to become vibrant again when the prospect of a successful marriage is restored.
One of my favorite moments is when the fence is newly erected and the town is trying to continue as if life has not changed. This scene starts with merchants hanging products and clothes on the barbed wire. This physical division becomes a merchant bizarre and, as if that isn't fun enough, the school (which is now divided) meets at the fence for daily lessons rather than in a classroom. It is a beautiful vision of the human response to this unnatural divide.
If you can't tell by now, I really enjoyed this movie. The visual composition, editing and especially the story were a wonderful treat and I would recommend checking this out if possible. My only critique would be that I don’t think that this movie would be as captivating if watched at home. This film truly needs the big screen in order to shine.
If you are interested in seeing this film there are two more screenings, both at the Metro 4. Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 7:45 pm and Friday, Feb. 12 at 8:00 am.