Baba Joon

This poignant feature about a family farm in rural Israel surprises in many ways, both subtle and stark. Though it was Israel’s submission to the 2015 Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film, the screenplay is almost entirely in Farsi, not Hebrew. A semi-autobiographical feature film debut from writer/director Yuval Delshad, it depicts three generations in the Morgian family, Persian immigrants from Iran to Israel, as they eke out a meager living on their small turkey farm in the early 1980s. Years earlier, the grandfather, known as Baba, thrusts the farm upon his youngest son Yitzak after his eldest, Darius, runs away to America. Now grown, Yitzak threatens to force the farm on his 13-year-old son Moti. When the boy shows a strong preference for engineering (building his own motorized scooter using spare parts in the barn), at first Yitzak interprets his distaste for farm work as a personal rejection. When Darius returns from the US, the conflicts brim over. The story could easily descend to stereotypes: Yitzak the angry father resistant to change, Moti and Darius the irresponsible free spirits. But Yelshad’s screenplay is too original, his actors too good to leave it at that. The sensitive performances, gentle pacing and key plot twists combine to weave a richly satisfying story. —Emily Kaiser Thelin
w/English Subtitle
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