Saturday, May 03, 2014

SFIFF: Salvation Army

Late Friday night at the SF International Film Festival, I saw Salvation Army, a film by first-time director Abdellah Taïa, based on his own autobiographical novel of the same name. The main character is first seen as a teenage boy, growing up in Morocco in a poor family. He seems to have 7 siblings, though I'm not sure I counted them all. He is so expressionless that I was not able to read his character, other than his obvious estrangement. We see that he fetishizes his adult brother & engages in sex with older men.

The movie mystified me. Though attractively photographed, it is a lot of long, slow takes without dialogue or music. I felt sure that everything on screen was meaningful to the director, but for me most scenes provided little information, & I was unable to fill in the gaps. The story makes an abrupt jump of 10 years before its seemingly arbitrary ending, which left the festival audience silent & nonplussed. The theater was nearly full. So far my festival experience has run smoothly. Audiences are let into theaters a half-hour before showtime, everyone receives a ballot to rate the movie, & the shows start on time.

§ Salvation Army (L'armee du salut)
Director: Abdellah Taïa
France/Morocco/Switzerland, 2013, 82 mins.

§ The 57th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival
May 2, 2014, 9:00 p.m.  Sundance Kabuki Cinema
May 4, 2014, 8:30 p.m.  BAM/PFA

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