Overview: A young Iranian boy living in Israel causes a rift within the family when he rebels against their traditional livelihood of farming turkeys. United King Films; 2015; 91 minutes.
Speaking Every Language: The setting of this film might be on the other side of the world, and turkey farming might be an unfamiliar concept to most of us, but the root of this intimate portrait of a father who is stuck in the past and a son who wants to forge his own future is a story that transcends both language and location. Baba Joon examines the universal struggles families face when expectations and passions don’t always coincide when we want them to. Sibling rivalry, rebellion, and battling the prevention of a stifling parental influence are themes that will echo the experiences and emotions of everyone, ones that require no subtitles to make an impact
Family Tradition: In an Israeli society where traditional farming still dominates cultural survival and prosperity, those who seek to explore a different path are often presented with the decision to rebel against their family’s wishes. And when Moti struggles with his distaste of the family business, which is less of a career and more of an all-biconsuming way of life, the presence of his uncle who has spent the last ten years carving out a life of his own in America gives the young boy courage to rebel against his father’s demands.
Amateur actor Asher Avrahami is the standout as Moti accentuating both the maturity and the playfulness the character possesses in his desires to be free to create his own future, while yielding the angry defiance of a child who in many ways just still wants to be a child. Veteran actors Navid Negahban Itzhak, Moti’s father, and David Diaan, Moti’s uncle Dariush, are both effective in displaying their opposite natures; Itzhak bends to his aging father’s every demand and in turn places those same relentless requirements on his own son, and Dariush is determined to escape the weight of his father’s heavy hand while maintaining his connection to his home and family.
Animal Farm: The most impactful scenes in Baba Joon, however, are the ones that focus on the turkeys themselves. The tension director Yuval Delshad creates in the examination of these animals confined in their environment, all cared for and raised identical, assembly line style, reflects the constant cycle that exists within this family until a disruption so substantial happens that causes the cycle to be broken. If the turkey’s beaks aren’t clipped, they’ll turn on each other and inflict pain, but the same does not ring true for humans, who will turn on one another if they’re forced to be stifled rather than set free. It’s this lesson Itzhak must learn when dealing with his son’s restless ambition and defiance, that he cannot just be methodically trained to fall in line like one of his birds, that family and work are not always on and the same.
*Baba Joon is currently being featured at the Pittsburgh Jewish Film Festival, running from April 7-17. Learn more about JFilm here.
Featured Image: United King Films