By David Luhrssen
We don’t often hear Armenian spoken in a film shown at Milwaukee theaters, or see the crowded streets of Yerevan or the Caucasus Mountains looming over the grassy uplands of Karabakh. But Armenia is the unusual setting for Here, a thoughtful film by U.S. director Braden King, starring Ben Foster as Will, a young American sent to Artsakh to make a detailed map of the countryside, and Lubna Azabal as Gadarine, the local photographer who becomes his guide and love interest.
A quiet film, introducing its characters and situations slowly, Here shows the enduring hospitality of the Armenian people along with the divisions between rich and poor and the disapproval sometimes faced by independent-minded women such as Gadarine. To her father and brother (but not her mother!), she’s the prodigal daughter. The rocky landscape is studded with the khumpets of the holy sites and the soundtrack includes the lively rhythms of contemporary Armenian pop music as well as the timeless melodies of the Badarak.
Co-sponsored by Armenian Fest, Here will be shown three times at the Milwaukee Film Festival: 9:30 p.m., Sept. 23 at the Oriental Theatre; 4:15 p.m., Sept. 24 at the Northshore Theatre; and 7:15 p.m., Sept. 26 at the Ridge Cinema.