Next Wednesday, the film gathering in Kino Zona will continue with the engaged documentary "Push", after which we will arrange an interesting conversation with experts, and until then we have a weekend recommendation for you that comes to us from faraway Australia.
Australian cinematography is globally recognized for its harsh stories, both from the past and the present, and their 'westerns' are especially striking. Now the rich tradition of such films, "The Proposition", "Nightingale", "Sweet Country" and "The True History of Kelly Gang" (you had the opportunity to watch it as part of the program of our cinema) are some of the more recent examples, last year's "The Furnace" continues.
The plot of the film follows a young Afghan Hanif (played by Ahmed Malek) who, like many of his compatriots, but also many Indians and Iranians in the late 19th century, was forced to contract with the 'British Crown', which then sent them to Australia to Aboriginal guides in unbearable heat and harsh nature to transport cargo for British and other companies. Realizing that with a modest wage he will not get too rich or return home 'singing', he and his Indian counterpart Junadah (Kaushik Das) and Aboriginal Woorak (Baykali Ganambarr) embark on 'private waters', but are prevented from doing so by white intolerance which ultimately results in a tragic event. After this unfortunate event, Hanif separates from Woorak, who returns to his tribe, and soon encounters scenes of massacre and the wounded outlaw Mala (David Wenham), who promises to share with him his booty from the gold robbery if he in return takes him through unknown terrain to a person who will melt gold bars in its illegal furnace. Naive, and a bit greedy Hanif trusts Mala not knowing that gold is not the wealth he really craves…
After a couple of well-received short films, the talented young director Roderick MacKay decided to try it in feature films with a story about people who are very much responsible for Australia's prosperity, although like the Chinese, Irish or Africans in the USA they were treated exclusively as 'cheap working people'. Such an unenviable 'treatment' was felt on his skin by the young Hanif, who longs for his homeland and, as one of his colleagues said, "the sky where the stars shine differently". On the other hand, pride does not allow him to return home empty-handed, so he wants to use his stay in that cruel country (the title of the movie "Furnace" symbolizes Australia itself) to earn a few gold coins, and when he is presented with an immoral offer by a white man (a well-played role by the internationally renowned and acclaimed Australian actor David Wenham), he finds himself at a moral turning point.
An interesting story with often brutal scenes typical of Australian westerns, quality acting, directing and a strong message of belonging, equality and heritage, make MacKay's "Furnace" a real little discovery, and the same conclusion was reached by the selectors of the Venice Film Festival which nominated film for the award last year.