MACONDO

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by Sudabeh Mortezai

grade: 7

In Macondo, many issues are brought into play. If, on the one hand, we see the problem of the integration of Ramasan’s family within Austrian society, then the focus slowly shifts to the personal drama of the young protagonist, the need to belong to something stable and reassuring – as can be, in this case, the family – and the desire to discover the truth about a past about which we still know too little.

Through the eyes of a child

Macondo is the name of the village in which One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s greatest masterpiece, is set. Yet, Macondo is also the name of a small area on the outskirts of Vienna – within the Simmering district – where numerous refugees from all over the world have been living for several decades now: from Latin America to Chechnya, not forgetting Somalia or Vietnam. In this particular urban context, then, is set Macondo, the first fiction film by director Sudabeh Mortezai made in 2014 and included, following the cancellation of the Diagonale 2020, in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished – section Filmmit Onlinefestival. This feature film also ideally completes the retrospective Sehnsucht 2020 – Eine kleine Stadterzählung.

If, then, in 2018, Sudabeh Mortezai has begun to make a name for himself even abroad thanks to Joy, his most recent work, which won several awards at the Österreichischer Filmpreis 2020 ceremony, already in Macondo we can recognise her stylistic signature and the typical themes of her cinema that is still so young, but, at the same time, so mature and incisive.

A particular story of integration, this one staged in Macondo, told from the perspective of little Ramasan (an intense Ramasan Minkailov). The boy, originally from Chechnya, is eleven years old and lives with his mother and two younger sisters. His father was killed during the war and the boy has to be a father to his sisters himself, making sure that everything in his house runs well. Yet, he himself needs a father and, next to the myth of his missing parent – considered as a real hero – he sees in a neighbour, once a friend of his own father, a possible father figure. Yet, this complicated and extremely delicate relationship will not always be so simple and idyllic.

In Macondo, then, several issues are brought into play. If, on the one hand, we see the problem of the integration of Ramasan’s family within Austrian society, then the focus slowly shifts to the personal drama of the young protagonist, the need to belong to something stable and reassuring – as can be, in this case, the family – and the desire to discover the truth about a past about which we still know too little.

Sudabeh Mortezai does not hesitate to bring up socio-political issues, including women’s conditions (the moment in which Ramasan’s mother tells her friends how she was forced to marry the man who would become the father of her children is particularly significant). Just as she does not hesitate to recount, overall, a small reality unknown to most, which, however, has existed, within the city of Vienna, for several years now. And yet, in this case, it is the young Ramasan who is the spokesman for the conditions in which many other children of his age live. His story, then, immediately becomes the story of many other young people whose past has been unjustly erased and whose identity struggles to assert itself within a society that still does not seem totally ready to accept them.

Everything is staged here with an extreme realism, similar to what was done with Joy. To this end, the director has opted for a cast of non-professional actors and a clean, essential direction. And it is here that the director’s past as a documentary filmmaker comes through loud and clear. All this results in a feature film that is tender and delicate, but also harsh, disenchanted and painful in its deep realism. And Sudabeh Mortezai has thus given further proof of her great sensitivity and innate talent. A talent that, a few years later, would finally be worldwide acknowledged.

Original title: Macondo
Directed by: Sudabeh Mortezai
Country/year: Austria / 2014
Running time: 96’
Genre: drama
Cast: Ramasan Minkailov, Aslan Elbiev, Kheda Gazieva, Rosa Minkailova, Iman Nasuhanowa, Askhab Umaev, Hamsat Nasuhanow, Champascha Sadulajev
Screenplay: Sudabeh Mortezai
Cinematography: Klemens Hufnagl
Produced by: FreibeuterFilm, ORF

Info: the page of Macondo on iMDb