Friday, 16 December 2016

The Black Hen - film review

Set in a remote area of Nepal during the 10 year Maoist Insurrection / civil war (1996 - 2006), this film follows the story of two friends as they try to get their hen back.

The story is simple but the film is full of telling detail that offers insight into the culture of Nepal at the time. Prakash is the son of the village headman, Kiran is an 'Untouchable' and their friendship is not always straightforward because of this difference in their social origins, which later in the film is complicated by the Maoist insurrection which comes between their families.

The star hen is actually white and the film title seems like a misnomer until quite late in the film! Kiran is very attached to his hen and hides her when the villagers are asked to sell their hens to the headman on the occasion of a royal visit. When the hen disappears though he and Prakash join together to try to get her back.

This is a beautiful film about how people try to continue living ordinary lives even in the midst of social unrest, but how sadly these ordinary lives finally reach breaking point. It sounds very worthy, but it has a light touch in dealing with all the social issues that are present in the story. It's also beautifully filmed and acted and has moments of humour.

The Black Hen is showing at Edinburgh Filmhouse tonight at 6.15 (you may just have time to dash out of the door and get to the cinema in time!) and there are two showings tomorrow.

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