Playing in the World Cinema Documentary competition of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Running time: 87 minutes; in Afghan Persian with subtitles. Next screenings: Monday, Jan. 28, 10 p.m., Redstone Cinema 2, Park City; Tuesday, Jan. 29, 3:45 p.m., Broadway Centre Cinema 3, Salt Lake City; Thursday, Jan. 31, 3 p.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City; Friday, Feb. 1, 3 p.m., Holiday Village Cinema 2, Park City.
Perseverance and pluck are shown in abundance in “Midnight Traveler,” Afghan filmmaker Hassan Fazili’s harrowing and ultimately inspiring first-person account of traveling the refugee trail to the European Union.
It starts with Fazili, his wife and two daughters leaving Tajikistan to return to Afghanistan after 14 months of failed attempts to get asylum anywhere. The Taliban have put a bounty on Fazili’s head, after a documentary he made for Afghan TV — and the Taliban had already killed the film’s subject.
The Fazilis decide risking a border crossing is better than waiting for the Taliban. So begins a journey that runs through Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia, from freezing nights outdoors to weeks and months in refugee camps. And Fazili films most every step on three cellphones.
Collaborating with writer/editor/producer Emilie Mahdavian, Fazili captures the hardships endured along the route, the strain it puts on the Fazilis’ marriage and the daughters’ childhood, and the hopefulness that spurs them to continue.
“Midnight Traveler” puts a human face on the plight of migrants, and puts the lie to the hateful demonization of immigrants everywhere. Here’s hoping the people who spout such hatred would watch this moving story and allow themselves to be moved by it.