Review: Just Like My Son
by Giovanni Melogli
- LOCARNO 2018: Screened as a world premiere out of competition at the 71st Locarno Film Festival, Costanza Quatriglio’s latest film weaves together reality and fiction with impressive sensitivity
As is often the case, Costanza Quatriglio’s most recent film came about by chance. Just Like My Son [+see also:
interview: Costanza Quatriglio
film profile] – screened out of competition at the 71st edition of the Locarno Film Festival – has its roots in a film by the same director, Il modo addosso (2006), in which Mohammad Jan Azad states: "When I bump into Afghan boys on the streets, I ask them how they here, which side of Afghanistan they came from and if they come from my area... perhaps sooner or later I might meet someone who can give me a chance to find my family... I'm always looking for someone to ask where my family is."
Jan fled Afghanistan when he was just a child and has not heard from his parents since. In 2010, Costanza learnt that Jan had managed to make phone contact with his mother, and from that moment onwards a long journey began in order to tell his stories, resulting in the short film Breve film d'amore e libertà, in which Jan acts out and reconstructs the phone calls he had with his mother up until their poignant and mutual identification.
The hundreds of pages that were collected over time became the basis for a story partially based in reality: the protagonist, Ismail, lives in Europe with his brother Hassan, both of whom fled the persecution of the Taliban against the Hazara people as children. Thanks to a fortuitous meeting, after many years Ismail manages to talk to the woman who is supposedly his mother on the phone, but she doesn’t recognise him.
It's here, through Ismail's attempt to "rediscover" his mother, and therefore her origins, that the narrative gradually expands, and more elements enter the frame: beginning with Ismail’s mother and ending with the story of the entire Hazara people.
As explained by the director, who was visibly moved at the end of the screening: "The film took a long time to make. Nothing was simple, on the contrary, we had to face countless challenges in the name of this impossible film. The poet Basir Ahang, who plays Ismail, the film’s co-writer Mohammad Jan Azad, and the whole cast have shared things they never imagined sharing, resulting in unique moments and some all-encompassing emotion." Just like those who give this beautiful film to us.
Costanza Quatriglio was born in Palermo in 1973. After graduating from the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, she made her debut in 2003 with The Island, screened at the 56th edition of Cannes film festival as part of the Directors' Fortnight. It was also in 2003, in Racconti per l'Isola, that the director talked about the use of non-professional actors when making The Island. A love for 'real' cinema pushed her towards the documentary genre with Raiz in 2004, Il mondo addosso, screened at Rome Film Festival in 2006 and Il mio cuore umano, screened at a Special Event at Locarno Film Festival in 2009. Her most recent films highlight her continuous personal exploration of the mixing of genres: Terramatta [+see also:
interview: Costanza Quatriglio
film profile], winner of a Nastro d'Argento award for Best Documentary in 2013, Il fiato sospeso, screened at the 70th edition of Venice Film Festival in 2013, which won the Premio Gillo Pontecorvo for Best Film in a Latin Language, Triangle [+see also:
film profile], winner of a Nastro d'Argento award for Best Documentary in 2015, and 87 ore, winner of the Special Documentary Nastro d'Argento award in 2016.
Just Like My Son is an Italian, Croatian and Belgian co-production produced by Andrea Paris and Matteo Rovere (Ascent Film and Rai Cinema) and co-produced by Daniele Peck (Antitalent) and Ivy Vanhaecke (Caviar Films). International distribution is being handled by True Colours.
(Translated from Italian)
Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.