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Trailer Watch: Babak Jalali’s Fremont

World premiering in Sundance’s NEXT category back in January, the trailer now arrives for director Babak Jalali’s feature debut Fremont. Co-written by Jalali and Italian filmmaker Carolina Cavalli, the Bay Area-set film stars newcomer Anaita Wali Zada, The Bear‘s Jeremy Allen White and On Cinema‘s Gregg Turkington.

An official synopsis reads:

Each morning Donya (Anaita Wali Zada) leaves her tight-knit community of Afghan immigrants in Fremont, California. She crosses the Bay to work at a family-run fortune cookie factory in San Francisco. Donya drifts through her routine, struggling to connect with the culture and people of her new, unfamiliar surroundings while processing complicated feelings about her past as a translator for the U.S. government in Afghanistan. Unable to sleep, she finagles her way into a regular slot with a therapist (Gregg Turkington) who grasps for prospective role models. When an unexpected promotion at work thrusts Donya into the position to write her own story, she communicates her loneliness and longing through a concise medium: the fortunes inside each cookie. Donya’s koans travel, making a humble social impact and expanding her world far beyond Fremont and her turbulent past, including an encounter with a quiet auto mechanic (Jeremy Allen White) who could stand to see his own world expanded.

Vadim Rizov positively reviewed the film out of Sundance, writing:

20 years ago, movies like this—droll post-Jarmusch/Kaurismäki exercises in missed connections and tentative bonds, often between the dispossessed of different cultures—were thick on the ground, and I generally enjoyed all of them. Fremont‘s variation is that its performances are low-key naturalistic rather than hollowed-out deadpan, and it gains a lot from the specificity of its characters and their unglamorous milieus; it’s not like this part of California is overrepresented onscreen. The tone is well-judged—jokes are melancholy and droll rather than merely cute, framing is purposefully used for emphasis and comic timing and there’s no sleeve-tugging score or third-act bathos.

Fremont will release via Music Box Films in the coming weeks, opening at San Francisco’s Roxie Cinema on August 25 before screening at New York City’s IFC Center and the Nuart Theater in Los Angeles on September 1. Watch the trailer above, and read our interviews out of Sundance with DP Laura Valladao and Jalali, who answered our editor questionnaire as well as our annual Sundance Question for feature directors.

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