VIWIFF: Noor

(2013, 120 mins)

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Country of origin: France, Turkey, Pakistan

Young, handsome Noor wants to be a man. He doesn’t belong to the Khusras, Pakistan’s eunuch and intersex community, anymore. After narrowly escaping a violent incident at the truck stop where he works, he heads off on a magical road trip across northern Pakistan hoping to find a woman who will accept him as he is.

Inspired by the lay actor’s true biography, the filmmakers embarked on a fascinating road movie through a Pakistan we don’t normally hear about—one with a stunning landscape, hopeful romantics, and entirely devoid of notions of terrorism and natural catastrophes. Most of the actors and extras play themselves, as the French-Turkish veteran documentary filmmakers take a vérité approach for their fictional debut.

Beautifully framed in a wide screen format, the film premiered at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival, and has been collecting awards ever since. Eponymous lead actor Noor, who had never met western people before meeting the directors, is an astonishing talent who has captured the hearts of festivalgoers world wide.

Preceded by:

Pink or Blue (Barbara Bedont, 7 min, Canada)

In this observational documentary, four-year-old Zac gets his wish to pick out an outfit for a Halloween party in his class. He insists on a pink princess gown… “Pink or Blue?” challenges our society’s rigid gender roles. Based on the belief that children have the right to explore their own gender identity, “Pink or Blue?” gives Zac the last word (Barbara Bedont, director).

88 Miles to Moscow (Karen Glienke, 20 min, USA)

15-year-old Niki tells her overprotective mother (in an excellent performance by Priscilla Barnes) all about a trip she took with her ex-con dad, but somehow fails to mention a few details –like getting off the train for a smoke, winding up stranded in the middle of nowhere, and having to find her way back with the help of a young Russian garbage man. Like all journeys worth taking, Niki’s cannot be measured in miles alone. This lighthearted, well-crafted dramedy has been collecting awards all over North America.