Macondo, little big man...
Unveiled at Berlin and selected at several other festivals such as London, Seattle and Hong Kong, the Austrian film Macondo by Sudabeh Mortezai takes on the theme of childhood that, in one way or another, has been deprived of part of its innocence.
The protagonist is a boy of about ten-years-old, on whose heels we follow closely throughout the film, and who is weighed down by lots of responsibilities – not that they have been abdicated by his mother (Kheda Gazieva), but she works long hours and counts on her son Ramasan (Ramasan Minkailov) to look after his two younger sisters and do the shopping. As she does not yet speak German very well, she also takes him with her to handle all the administrative procedures required for their request for asylum, and has him translate everything into Chechen.
His father is absent (he died a hero's death in the conflict with the Russians), and here, the young lad's quest is naturally focused on this absent father figure. He spontaneously carries out some of the missions required of him by his role – as a young Moslem, he keeps an eye as much on his mother as his little sisters, encouraged to do so by other Chechens in the amazing refugee settlement of Macondo (in Vienna’s Simmering district) –, but as soon as the character called Isa (Aslan Elbiev) appears, he naturally fills an obvious and general void. Isa knew the boy's father, and he first appears to give Ramasan the watch he had put aside for his son, though Isa soon starts to give his own advice and handyman techniques, as well as his own knife, meeting the young lad's eager desire for a tangible male role model.
While Ramasan clearly blossoms thanks to this, it creates a conflict within him which is expressed in silence as he looks at the austere photos of the father he misses so much, or stares through dark eyebrows at his mother who, for once, has accepted a decorous dance, with a look which is rarely seen on the face of a child and is all to the credit of the young actor.
Macondo – Trailer:
24 November 2016, by Cineuropa