Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mohydeen Quandour's CHERKESS offers a rare chance to see a new film from Jordan

At the beginning of the 20th Century -- or so TrustMovies learned from watching CHERKESS, the new historical, love-and-rationality story from writer/
director Mohydeen Quandour -- groups of minority Circassians (the Cherkess of the title) were relocated from Imperial Russia to those Ottoman territories populated already by Bedouins. These territories eventually became what we now know as the country of Jordan, and so we're getting a little history, in addition to the love and culture-clash that comes from this Romeo & Juliet-ish tale leavened by a couple of old-timers, both of whom try to head off tragedy, and one of whom possesses pretty extraordinary diplomatic skills.

Mr. Quandour, shown at left, tells a relatively simple, at times simplistic, story that involves love at first sight and a pair of lovers -- he's handsome, heroic, and quite the dashing horseman, while she's simply smitten and beautiful in the earthy manner of a young Claudia Cardinale -- intent on being together one way or another. While the older genera-tion strives for accommo-dation on both sides, the younger generation, particularly the head Bedouin's son, resents these interlopers and vows to get rid of them by any means necessary.

Incidents happen (as above) on one side and then the other, and anger escalates until...  What? You've already seen this story a few (hundred) times? Yes, but I wager you won't quite have seen it this way -- with the mores, the costumes, and the ceremonies of these two cultures brought to the fore so colorfully with occasional humor and an acting style, as demonstrated particularly by a couple of the women, that harks back to the days of eye-rolling silent films.

Once the two young lovers Nart and Hind (played, respectively by newcomers Azamat Bekov, above, left, and Sahar Bishara, right) take matters into their own hands, it seems that tragedy cannot be averted, and probably the most interesting part of this nearly two-hour movie is its final half hour, in which the older generation takes over, using rationality, kindness and a genuine appreciation for the traditions of others to find a way out of the dilemma. The Cherkess character Temur, shown below, left, and played with a quiet sense of unflagging wisdom by Mohadeen Kohmakov, proves the heart and soul of this slow-paced but interesting film.

Cherkess, distributed by Sindika Productions, opens this Friday, November 4, in New York City at the Quad Cinema. More playdates do not appear to be in the offing just now, so go ahead, New Yorkers: Be brave film-goers -- and the first on your block to see a Jordanian movie!

Update: we've just heard from the film's director (see Comments below) that his film will now go into distribution in America through New World Distribution, to be screened in most major cities throughout the USA, after which it will also become available in other media (DVDs, downloads etc.) soon after the theatrical distribution.

10 comments:

Mariet Fosnes said...

Thank you, Mohydeen, for your contribution to our beautiful cultural heritage.I look forward to seeing the movie.

James van Maanen, said...

And thank YOU, Mariet. Let us know what you think, once you've seen the movie.

David Collins said...

Hi James...I enjoyed reading your critic of this film which by the way I saw last year when it opened in Amman Jordan. You wont believe it but it actually broke the AVATAR records in Jordan, very popular and the Jordanians were very proud of it naturally. Jordan has a sizeable Circassian community and I met some of them.
I am in New York now and will definitely go again to see this very enjoyable down-to-earth feature film. The message I got from it was different from yours; that all conflicts no matter what kind can be resolved through dialogue...you must agree it is a universal message we desparately need these days.
David Collins

James van Maanen, said...

David--
Thanks for your very worthwhile comments. Actually, what you got from the film was not that different from what I got, I think. (Maybe I just didn't express myself well enough.) And speaking of dialog solving problems, go see IN THE FAMILY, also at the Quad Cinema (covered in my earlier post today).

I can believe Cherkess broke the Avatar record in Jordan, as I was not much of an Avatar fan. Also, home-grown movies tend to break records in their country of origin, whatever that may be.

Anonymous said...

This movie is garbage.

James van Maanen, said...

OK, Anonymous: Just WHY is Cherkess garbage? A comment like this should have some specifics to it, if it is to be taken at all seriously by readers.

Anonymous said...

Absolutley loved this film, there is nothing like it. Shot beautifully, acted fantastically and full of atmosphere brought out with great direction by Mohydeen. I had no previous knowledge of the Circassian culture but this has sparked a keen interest.

James van Maanen, said...

That's great, Anon. Sparking an interest in this culture is undoubtedly what the movie-maker intended (among other things).

mquandour said...

Greetings James, Thanks for your kind words regarding my film Cherkess. Just wanted to inform you and other fans who enjoyed the film that it wil now go into proper distribution in America through New World Distribution. We just signed the contract and the film will be screened in most of the major cities in America. It will also become available in all other media (DVDs, downloads etc) soon after the theatrical distribution. I think you are doing a great service for independant film makers and I want to thank for your support and unbiased crtiticism of such films.
Mohydeen Quandour

James van Maanen, said...

Thanks for this good news, Mohydeen (which I have posted, as an "Update,"above). Congratulations -- and we'll look forward to what you do next!