After opening an art café in Afghanistan in 2015, filmmaker Hassan Fazili angered the Taliban, and a bounty was put on his head. Hassan, his fellow filmmaker/wife Fatima and their two young daughters were forced to flee their homeland to seek political asylum in the European Union. Filmed on cellphones over the course of three years, Midnight Traveler documents their arduous journey.
Winner of a special jury prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the documentary is wonderfully honest and illuminating. The Fazili family’s plight takes them on a 3,500-mile adventure through Tajikistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia. Filming during everyday family life as well as instances fraught with danger, Midnight Traveler never feels staged, manipulative or contrived.
Fazili creates a sparse but compelling narrative, letting organic moments do most of the storytelling. Ultimately, he presents viewers with a video diary that captures universally relatable human experiences and makes the refugee crisis more tangible to an (opinionated but often ignorant) Western audience.
Starts Nov. 1 at Pisgah Film House