Toronto 2019: Nobadi

Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh and Heinz Trixner in Nobadi. Courtesy of TIFF.

An elderly Austrian man requires the services of an Afghan refugee in Nobadi so that he can bury his late dog in the backyard.

Heinrich Senft (Heinz Trixner) is north of 80 years old and his dog just died.  The dog’s death wasn’t sudden or anything but it was merely a case of age.  Unfortunately, local services aren’t able to dispose of the carcass without paying a nominal fee.  As a result, the old man has no choice but to bury him in the backyard.  The shaft of the pick breaks leaving him no choice but to head out and replace it.  This is where Adib Ghubar (Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh) sees him and decides to follow him home.  A migrant worker, he’ll do anything that he possibly can for money.  Heinrich has trust issues so he’s reluctant to bring him on.  He eventually gives in and allows him to dig the hole.

Listen, I don’t want to accuse someone of having a bad memory here but in Heinrich’s case, he forgot where he put the money.  Because of the memory lapse, he holds Adib at gunpoint and makes him remove clothing to search for money.  Yes, he eventually remembers and they go along on their merry way.  It’s when Heinrich discovers him sleeping on a bench in which he learns of what is truly troubling the young man.  It turns out that he has a serious leg injury.  No documents means that he has a huge worry of being deported if he so much as walks into a hospital for treatment.  Heinrich appropriately takes matters into his own hands.

If you’re wondering if this is going to be a film where you get to fall in love with a dog only to see it die, the answer is no.  Instead, what we have is getting to know Heinrich and Adib by way of their differences.  In the case of the latter, we get to know more about him while he’s on the operating table.  Because he’s a refugee and doesn’t have documents, Adib flat out refuses to get treated at a hospital.  As it turns out, Heinrich is a former paramedic.  When the vet doesn’t work out (why would you?!?), Heinrich decides to treat him.  Wisely, the film cuts away because we’re going to see some pretty brutal footage.  Trigger/content warning:  There Will Be Blood.  I feel that it’s on me to let you know in case you think you’re going to feel a bit faint.

Eventually, this film becomes about remorse.  Is Heinrich still an anti-Semite or did he only work at the camps because he did not have a choice.  This was one of the things that Nobadi tries to express.  If he can help save Adib’s life, will it help him feel better about his own past?  The further we get from the 1930s and 1940s, people are likely to forget some of the conditions that led to tragedy.  While Nobadi makes reference to Homer in The Odyssey, the fact of the matter is nobody is a nobody.  Everybody is a sombody.

CAST: Heinz Trixner, Borhanulddin Hassan Zadeh, Konstanze Dutzi

Nobadi holds its world premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema program. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.