Donya (Anita Wali Zada) worked as a translator for the US military in Afghanistan. Now she’s with a mom-and-pop fortune cookie factory in Fremont, California. She knows she’s lucky to have made it out, but she’s concerned about her family back home and she has trouble sleeping. Perhaps therapy will help? Perhaps not. But when she’s promoted to actually writing fortunes, her own takes an unexpected turn…
This lovely slow burn comedy from Iranian-born filmmaker Babak Jalali and Italian cowriter Carolina Cavalli (Amanda) is reminiscent of the early, funny films of Jim Jarmusch. Like Jarmusch, Jalali appreciates the value of taking a beat. It’s beautifully shot in black and white, and Anita Wali Zada (a journalist in her first movie role) is marvelous as the stoical Donya. There’s strong support from Jeremy Allen White (The Bear) and Gregg Turkington as Donya’s eccentric therapist.
Not to be missed: Babak Jalali’s coolly deadpan comedy… The economy and sorrowful humor of Fremont is reminiscent of Aki Kaurismäki and Jim Jarmusch.
Amy Taubin, Artforum
A drama with a spare, wry tone that belies its earnest and ample substance… Jalali presents the action in sharply detailed vignettes, filmed in mainly static black-and-white images, that emphasize both the poignant absurdities of Donya’s situation and the wider conflicts that underlie them. Zada, a journalist in her first movie role, endows her character with pensive depths and a shudder at what they contain.
Richard Brody, New Yorker
Charming, thoughtful and carefully crafted… a real gem.
Rodrigo Perez, The Playlist
Anita Wali Zada, Jeremy Allen White, Gregg Turkington, Hilda Schmelling, Avis See-tho, Siddique Ahmed
In English, Dari and Cantonese with English subtitles
Saturday September 23
Lata Krishnan, Neda Nobari, Nickhil Jakatdar, Akash Nigam
Marjaneh Moghimi, p.g.a.; Sudnya Shroff, p.g.a.; Rachael Fung, p.g.a.; George Rush; Chris Martin; Laura Wagner
Carolina Cavalli, Babak Jalali