Section: Feature Film Competition


Sermon To The Fish

Hilal Baydarov
AZ/MX/CH/TR , 2022, 89 Min

The war: won. The landscapes: scarred. The people: dead. Soldier Davud returns to his home village, only his sister Baci survived. An impressive, visually powerful end-of-times portrait with spiritual undertones; hypnotic slow cinema at its finest.

The residents of Davud and Baci's village have died from a mysterious plague. The two surviving young people mourn and struggle to survive. Aided by epic imagery, shot in the oil fields and desert landscapes of the Azerbaijan plains, Hilal Baydarov generates high production value on but a minimal budget. Contemplative depth develops behind the dystopian surface, behind the trauma of the protagonists the realisation that the war they won ended in a pyrrhic victory, behind their mourning a longing for hope, for salvation. "SERMON TO THE FISH is not about a specific battle, instead it’s about the forgotten souls lost in a pain that victory cannot ease. With wars raging in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world, SERMON TO THE FISH is a much-needed philosophical narrative," says Maria A Ruggieri, Director of the international sales company Asian Shadows. In the original sermon to the fish, composed in the mid-17th century, Saint Anthony is forbidden by the heretical fathers of Rimini to preach to the people, whereupon the fish listen to him instead. In the case of director Baydarov there are hardly any people left, and the few fish that appear here are desperately looking for the strength to draw, from the film’s poetic imagery, the will to survive.

Text: Bernd Buder

English: Peter Rickerby

Stadthalle: Original version with English subtitles + German simultaneous translation.

Weltspiegel Saal 2: Original version with English subtitles

Christian GIRAUD
Rama ASGAROVA as Sura Orkhan ISKANDARLI as Davud Huseyn NASIROV as Commander
Ucqar Film, Splendor Omnia Studios
Hilal Baydarov

Hilal Baydarov - Hilal Baydarov is a writer / director from Baku, Azerbaijan. During his high school years, he won the national championships of mathematics twice in 2004 and 2005. In 2011 he lead the Azerbaijani team at the informatics olympiad. After a master in computer sciences, Baydarov studied at the Sarajevo Film Academy under acclaimed Hungarian filmmaker Béla Tarr before going on to make his feature debut HILLS WITHOUT NAMES (2018), which premiered at the Montreal World Film Festival, the same year his documentary debut BIRTHDAY won the Docu Talent Award at the Sarajevo Film Festival. Since then Hilal has completed an award-winning trilogy of documentaries set in Katech Azerbaijan: WHEN THE PERSIMMONS GREW (2019) which won the Heart of Sarajevo for Best Documentary at the Sarajevo and the Interreligious Award and Special Jury Mention at Visions du réel; MOTHER AND SON (2019), which premiered in the main competition at IDFA; and NAILS IN MY BRAIN (2020) which premiered at Cinema du réel.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Elshan Abbasov

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