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Double-bill from the London Migration Film Festival 2018

Thursday 15 November 2018, by Kai Ellis

The Postman by Vahid Keshavarz

Vahid Keshavarz’s documentary short The Postman profiles Hadi, an Iranian poet living in London and working as a postman. There is a quiet dignity to Hadi as he goes about his round, scribbling his verses as they come to him on Royal Mail delivery cards, fearful of forgetting them later on. Hadi doesn’t talk of fleeing Iran, but rather of coming to London to follow his wife as she undertook a post-graduate course in 2004. We see him contemplatively take a smoking break while sat on a wall as we hear him read his poetry in Farsi. It’s unfortunate that in places the English sub-titles have not been proof-read, which is a distraction at times. He laments that “there is not much eye contact here between the people.” Keshavarz takes a considered pace for this simple portrait, but I couldn’t help feeling that we could have got to know Hadi more than we do. At one point we see him return home to collate the day’s stanzas and he calls up to his child, but this is not developed, and there is seemingly no sign of his wife either, leaving the viewer to wonder if she remains a part of his life. Still, it’s a timely reminder of those who visit us every day, often taken for granted, and have a story of their own to tell.

Watch the film in our Short of the Week section.

Our Kind of Love by Azeem Bhati, Elham Ehsas

Azeem Bhati and Elham Ehsas share writing and directing credit on this charming short that tells the story of a young couple, Samira (Afsaneh Dehrouyeh) and Harun (Elham Ehsas), who are seemingly on a blind date. We meet them in a London sushi restaurant, both nervous yet clearly attracted to each other. We learn that Samira has only recently arrived from Afghanistan whereas Harun is evidently a seasoned Londoner, albeit of Afghani heritage. Initial small talk of the difference between dogs in London and Kabul (in the former they are pets, in the latter guard dogs) and their shared love of Afghan music soon turns to more heart-felt conversation. Samira pines for someone who remains in Aghanistan, clutching a letter and a passport photograph of them close by. Meanwhile, Harun is distracted by phone calls he initially tries to ignore before giving in and trying to cut ties with the caller, who is seemingly from his recent past. Samira returns to thoughts of home as we see projections of her inner memories: birds flocking above the streets of Kabul, accompanied by the distant sound of children’s voices. Samira and Harun stand on the precipice of a new life together, yet with its foundations clearly rooted in their
shared traditional heritage. Can they leave their old lives behind and step into the future together? Our Kind of Love is elegantly paced with a simple, yet heart-felt, story and Ehsas and Dehrouyeh give touching performances, portraying a genuine, human connection throughout.

The London Migration Film Festival runs from 29 November to 5 December. More information and full programme of films and talks here.

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