- 80 mins
- English (subtitles)
Hosted by Director Arshad Khan
Fraught family relations have become a staple of first-person documentary filmmaking, but ABU (“Father”) delves into new territory with its raw, brazen emotional intensity. After a number of inspired short films, Montreal-based filmmaker Arshad Khan presents his feature debut at Fantasia.
Khan tells the story of his family's migration from Pakistan to Mississauga, Ontario, a place where they would encounter jarring racism. Adding to Khan's complex upbringing was his own coming of age as an adolescent gay man. As Khan explores his own identity, his father becomes more and more entrenched in conservative Islam. Khan captures the father-son friction admirably in this beautiful if harsh memoir. Especially devastating is a scene where Khan's mother bluntly states her unequivocally disapproving views of homosexuality.
Adeptly shifts between home-movie videos, news clips, animation and talking-head interviews, Khan’s complex, shifting choice of form perfectly reflecting the complicated evolution of his clan. His film reminds us that primal family events never really leave us; ABU paints an unforgettable portrait of the father-son bond, caught at the tormented crossroads of national borders, religious extremism and observance, conservatism and modernity. One of the best documentaries of the year.
- Matthew Hays