Film Festival Film #2: Him, Here, After

My second screening was a Sri Lankan film called Him, Here, After. In it, our main character (only known as “Him”) is a former Tamil Tiger who has spent the last few years after the war in a rehabilitation camp. Now, he returns to Jaffna to a community that views him with mixed reactions. He wants to start a new life and put his past as a soldier behind him, but he has no job prospects, and can’t even afford to get a driver’s license.

People from his past are interested in catching up — “No point” he says. He initially says that same thing to his former sweetheart (who has been married and widowed since he last saw her), but they reunite. Finally, things start to go his way: the owner of a pawn shop gives him a job as a guard, but fires the previous guard to do so. The former guard (and his wife and kids) start to follow him around, trying to guilt him about having cost a family’s livelihood. And then it becomes clear that the pawn shop is just a front for smuggling, and the owner has hired him precisely because of his past.

It’s a good film, although there were times when it seemed to be hammering out its message — don’t revisit the past; just live. The Q&A afterward was the strangest Q&A I’ve seen. The director tended to respond with one-sentence answers to any questions, sometimes even seeming disdainful of the questions. I was fascinated that his actors weren’t professional — they gave some pretty good performances.

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