On Friday, February 1, the awards ceremony of the 48th Rotterdam Film Festival, one of the largest and most influential film festivals in the world, took place. Known for its democracy and lack of pathos, this event is loved not only by the authors, producers and distributors of cinema, but also by the public – after all, this is almost the most visited festival in the world. At this year 538 films of various genres and author’s intonations were demonstrated here. The full-length feature film “The End of the Season” participated in the main competition “Bright Future”, where world premieres of directors from around the world were gathered. And it was “The End of the Season”, a film in Azerbaijani language and telling about Azerbaijanis, that became the favorite of film critics and film experts, and also received the prize of FIPRESCI – the world federation of film media.
The film’s director, Elmar Imanov, is well known in Azerbaijani cinema. His half-hour graduate work “The Undertaker’s Swing” collected more than forty prizes around the world, including the student Oscar and the prize of German film critics for the best short film of the year. His next film named “Torn” participated in the famous “Directors’ Fortnight” in Cannes, where it also attracted the attention of European film critics. A few years ago, Elmar Imanov, together with his producer Eva Blondio, formed the film company COLOR OF MAY, which is successfully working on international projects. Among them is the “Arrhythmia” by Boris Khlebnikov and “Kabul – city in the winds” by Abuzar Amini.
“The End of the Season” is the first full-length film by a young director from Cologne. Filmed almost without a budget, it turned out to be intimate and strict, but at the same time endowed with “a rich emotional scale – from tenderness to sarcasm, from nostalgia to provocation” (Andrei Plakhov). The film tells about one day in the life of a small Azerbaijani family living somewhere on the outskirts of Baku. The area of high-rise buildings, an endless series of windows in which thousands of people live – with their worries, dreams and problems. And filmmakers tried to look inside one of these windows. What happens behind closed windows, with heroes trying to be modern, but at the same time carrying with themselves the vast amount of traditional relationships, values and obligations?
The couple, Samir and Fidan (Rasim Jafarov and Zulfiya Gurbanova) are experiencing a family crisis, while their growing up son (Mevsum Mirza-zade) is looking for ways to arrange an independent life. The conflict between the search for freedom and the desire to preserve elusive family happiness leads the film characters to the beach. The swimming season comes to an end and the Caspian beach looks a bit deserted. Will family members be able to regain the lost feeling of love and togetherness, or will the bonds of cordial relations finally disperse amid the setting sun? The metaphor of the coast is located in the center of the film and becomes its main. Here, on the shore, intrigue begins, and the evening and night following the day reveal the essence and makes viewer worry. Family drama against the background of endless lights of the same type of apartments leads to an almost mystical space, where reality and imaginary intertwine and fight with each other, forcing the heroes to commit or not to commit acts that somehow change their lives. According to Russian film critic Andrei Plakhov, the finale “by bell, book and candle alienates heroes from reality, plunging them into the space of fictions and painful fantasies.” In the conflict of the desires of the three characters, the viewer feels the world, “where the lights of the big city shine in the windows, and behind each window there is pain and longing for another life”.
Norwegian critic Kristin Aalen, who led the FIPRESSI jury, noted a large number of talented works from all over the world, which were presented in the “Brilliant Future” competition, and formulated the jury’s choice as follows: “for the deeply mysterious depiction of the family, for the marvelous sharpness of the narrative, for a refreshing incarnation of the world in which every home becomes the secret dwelling of repressed desires ”
The author of this article, who also had a hand in making the film, congratulates the entire film crew with success and encourages all movie lovers to view the tape!