×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Rain in a Dry Land

"Rain in a Dry Land" is in the forefront of the current crop of immigration chronicles, a docu that illuminates a stratum of U.S. life as much as it does the plight of the African emigre. The film's honesty and grit should give it wide appeal and a healthy embrace from festivals.

With:
With: Arbai Barre Abdi, Aden Kabir Edow, Madina Ali Yunye.

Rigorously intimate and disarmingly affectionate, “Rain in a Dry Land” is in the forefront of the current crop of immigration chronicles, a docu that illuminates a stratum of U.S. life as much as it does the plight of the African emigre. In following two subject families in their transition from Somalian refugee camp to underclass America, filmmaker Anne Makepeace never reduces them to devices or symbols or anything less than human beings caught in the cross-hairs of global politics. The film’s honesty and grit should give it wide appeal and a healthy embrace from festivals.

Gorgeously, purposefully shot by vet lenser Joan Churchill and her son, Barney Broomfield, and edited a with sure and sympathetic hand by Mary Lampson, pic focuses on an oppressed minority within an oppressed minority: Somali Bantus who, as the descendants of slaves, were ostracized in Somalia, and managed to escape into Kenya during the civil war in the early ’90s.

Makepeace picks up their story 13 years into life at the Kakuma refugee camp (home to refugees from various African wars) and follows two families — single mother Arbai Barre Abdi and her children, and married couple Aden Kabir Edow and Madina Ali Yunye and their children — as they are prepped for life in a land where they won’t understand even how to descend a flight of stairs.

Makepeace, whose previous films include “Robert Capa in Love and War” and “Baby It’s You,” has chosen two female characters who couldn’t be more different. Through them, she emphasizes the individuality of people who all too often blend in the public mind into a single, indistinct, disenfranchised mass. Both women have experienced horrors, but nothing seems able to blot the sunshine of Arbai’s personality. Madina, on the other hand, wears her war grief like a scar. The way Makepeace unobtrusively but insistently traces the fault lines of Madina and Aden’s marriage provides a kind of dark undercurrent that informs all the other troubles they face.

Joel Goodman’s music, a wedding of African influences and blues, makes its own gradual transition as the film progresses, moving from an African to a more Americanized vernacular as the two families become more accustomed to their new homes–Arbai in Atlanta, Madina and Aden in Springfield, Mass. — and their children adjust, or maladjust, to their problems.

One noteworthy aspect is that Makepeace’s movie never fails to be cinematic regardless of how free-form the director is forced to be, or how difficult the circumstances of a given scene; it almost feels that the film is blessed. Even if the subjects of “Rain in a Dry Land” have much to rail against in their lives, they can be grateful for such a compassionate telling of what is often a heartbreaking story.

Rain in a Dry Land

Production: A Makepeace Prods. presentation, in cooperation with ITVS and in association with POV/American Documentary. Produced, directed, written by Anne Makepeace.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), Joan Churchill, Barney Broomfield; editor, Mary Lampson; music, Joel Goodman; sound, Alan Barker; associate producer, Su Kim. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, Feb. 12, 2006. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: With: Arbai Barre Abdi, Aden Kabir Edow, Madina Ali Yunye.

More Film

  • EMMA APPLETON as FEEF SYMONDS

    'Traitors' Producer 42 Hires Literary Manager Eugenie Furniss

    Eugenie Furniss is joining London- and Los Angeles-based management and production company 42 as literary manager, it was announced Wednesday. The company’s slate include movie “Ironbark,” a Cold War thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and TV series “Traitors,” a spy thriller coming to Netflix in the U.S. at the end of the month. Furniss joins 42 [...]

  • Brad Pitt Leonardo DiCaprio Once Upon

    Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Trailer Drops

    The first trailer for Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” is finally here. The highly anticipated film, starring Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, is set to be released on July 26. Tarantino, who wrote the script and will also direct and produce the movie, was inspired by his own upbringing in the midst [...]

  • One-Cut-Of-The-Dead-Review

    Japanese Sleeper Hit ‘One Cut of the Dead’ Heads for English Remake (EXCLUSIVE)

    “One Cut of the Dead,” a micro-budget horror film that last year defied the odds to become one of the biggest hits of the year in Japan, is headed for an English-language remake. Patrick Cunningham, a Japan-based American producer whose credits include “Martha Marcy May Marlene” and “Starlet,” is behind the venture. The original film, [...]

  • Come as You Are review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Come as You Are'

    The rare remake that’s actually a slight improvement on its predecessor, Richard Wong’s “Come as You Are” translates Geoffrey Enthoven’s 2011 Belgian “Hasta la Vista” to middle America. Other changes are less substantial, but this seriocomedy has a less formulaic feel than the original while remaining a crowd-pleasing buddy pic-caper with a soft-pedaled minority empowerment [...]

  • Strange Negotiations review

    SXSW Film Review: 'Strange Negotiations'

    In a era when some mainstream entertainers have transitioned to targeting faith-based audiences, David Bazan is moving in the other direction. The gifted songwriter’s ersatz band Pedro the Lion was perhaps the most successful Christian indie rock act of its time, and the first to significantly cross over to secular fans. Then he ditched that persona (and [...]

  • Bluebird review

    SXSW Film Review: ‘Bluebird’

    As affectionate as a love letter but as substantial as an infomercial, Brian Loschiavo’s “Bluebird” may be of most interest to casual and/or newly converted country music fans who have occasionally wondered about the songwriters behind the songs. There’s a better than even-money chance that anyone who’s a loyal and longtime aficionado of the musical [...]

  • ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Wonder Park’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending for the Fourth Week in a Row

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the fourth week in row with “Wonder Park.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.18 million through Sunday for 1,718 national [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content