No Comments on NOBADI

This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)

by Karl Markovics

grade: 8

Nobadi, actor Karl Markovics’ third directorial work, is a timeless story, a universal story, imbued with strong symbolism and within which the two talented protagonists must inevitably deal with themselves and their difficult experiences. All this creates a work of extraordinary artistic maturity.

Between past and present

The ‘Kleingartenverein’, located in Vienna’s 15th district, is a unique reality that allows residents to keep a small plot of land to farm and – why not? – perhaps even live in modest little houses located there. A place, this one, that almost seems to us like a kind of non-place, or, better still, a place where time seems to have definitely stopped. This is the location, then, that Karl Markovics – here at his third directorial feature after Breathing (2011) and Superworld (2015) – has chosen for his Nobadi, already screened in the official selection at the Toronto Film Festival 2019.

So, what could be a better place to set a story that – with a balanced mixing of present and past – is able to deal with important topical issues, delicately touching feelings and complicated human relationships without rhetoric? In any case, what we see in Nobadi is the birth of an important friendship that so closely resembles a relationship between a father and son. This, then, is the relationship established between the elderly and grumpy Heinrich Senft (Heinz Trixner) and the young Afghan immigrant Adib Ghubar (Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh), also known as Nobadi, as he was called in the labour camp in Afghanistan where he worked. Two personalities with difficult pasts behind them, whose destinies end up crossing in a completely accidental way, due to an old tree trunk to be uprooted in Heinrich’s small garden. Who better than young Nobadi, then, to help him dig a hole in order to bury his old, now deceased dog?

Nobadi, in fact, although dealing with important topical issues, is a timeless story, a universal story, imbued with strong symbolism and within which the two good protagonists must inevitably deal with themselves and their difficult experiences. Nobadi, in a nutshell, is history repeating itself, as if everything would return endlessly without any hope of redemption. Or maybe not? Karl Markovics, for his part, doesn’t want to give precise answers in this regard, but through a skilful simple approach, he has managed to create two characters who, in just an hour and a half, don’t need to tell the audience too much. A film characterised by many silent scenes, Nobadi, but also by long dialogues and monologues, as happens, for example, in the touching scene in which the boy talks about his difficult past in his own language.

In this film the inner transformation of the characters (and, in particular, of the character played by Trixner) takes place naturally, although the traces of their past are always tangible. And so, within this timeless location, we witness two excellent acting performances, in a story that is not afraid to take all the time it needs, but which, at the same time, is able to induce strong emotional shocks to a spectator who cannot help but feel part of it right from the start.

Karl Markovics is not afraid to overdo it, to dare. And in Nobadi he seems to be particularly talented. If, in fact, in Breathing – his first directorial work – he already made an excellent job, in this feature film we can see that the actor has also matured further as a director. And, of course, also as a screenwriter. If, in fact, Nobadi works, it is (also) thanks to a good screenplay, free of rhetoric, as is often the case when such topics are dealt with. What stands out, on the contrary, are two important personalities: the first strongly marked by a dark past, the second who from its past has learnt how to survive, like a sort of post-modern Ulysses (and here his nickname Nobadi, no one, refers precisely to the deeds of Homer’s hero).

What, then, will result from such an encounter? Probably only a skilful exchange of glances will be able to best describe it. And Karl Markovics, it seems, knows this well. Very well.

Original title: Nobadi
Directed by: Karl Markovics
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 89’
Genre: drama
Cast: Heinz Trixner, Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh, Konstanze Dutzi, Simone Fuith, Julia Schranz, Sven Sorring
Screenplay: Karl Markovics
Cinematography: Serafin Spitzer
Produced by: Epo-Film Produktionsgesellschaft

Info: the page of Nobadi on the website of the Epo-Film; the page of Nobadi on iMDb; the page of Nobadi on the website of the Austrian Film Commission