23

In the presence of the Director

Old and infirm, Shamil is now unable to look after the large pomegranate orchard extending beyond the modest family homestead in rural Azerbaijan. His daughter-in-law Sara and her young son Jalal are unlikely to help him care for the ancient trees in the future, so it looks as if the family may have to give up their only real source of trade. The lazy progression of sultry summer days is disrupted by the unexpected return of Shamil’s son Gabil, who fled the village without warning twelve long years ago and wasn’t heard from again. The deep emotional scars he left on his father, his wife and their son can’t be erased from one day to the next… As this private family drama unfurls, we discover the reasons for Gabil’s sudden departure only gradually, in keeping with the leisurely pace of the camera as it pans across the picturesque surroundings. However, the wrongs of the past continue to simmer uneasily beneath the veneer of this innocent landscape, and it is only a question of time before they break the surface.