The pace at which writer-director Tofiq Rzayev is making his short films, and making them available for review, is, quite frankly, remarkable. This time, he co-writes and co-directs with Fidan Jafarova, but the story and pain it contains on an emotional level is still all his. In six films, he has never fallen short of impressing me, and I don’t really see that changing anytime soon. Here, we have a family hiding out in the mountains during war. The father (Sabir Mammadov) is gravely ill, and his wife (Basti Jafarova) must go and get rations for them and their young daughter, Feride (Konul Iskender). The father tells her that Ali (Adil Damirov), their son, will bring some back- he never forgets. His wife simply tells him, “No,” and goes out in the rainstorm coming down. That just leaves Feride at home with her sick father as the elements, and war, rage outside. She then finds herself with Ali- his words are prophetic and painful to hear.
Rzayev is a gifted storyteller who has managed to impress me with many different genres, but all with a similar purpose- to burrow his way into the pain and agony of life and find some truth in the sorrow. He is collaborating with someone here, but that central mission statement that shines through in each of his films is as vital and powerful as ever as Ali finds herself confronted by adult anxieties whether she is ready for them or not. We do not know what will happen to her when the credits roll, but “Araf” will stick in your memory and hit you hard.