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Gubra, April 23

49th San Francisco International Film Festival at PFA

Sunday, April 23, 2006
1:30 p.m. Gubra
Yasmin Ahmad (Malaysia, 2006)

Early in Gubra, amorous horseplay between young Orked and her husband Arif is interrupted by a frantic phone call from her mother: "We are losing your father!" Orked and Arif rush to her parents' house and, amidst much wailing and scolding, load him into a car and drive him to the hospital. It is a comic reminder of the hysteria that can accompany any family crisis and the catalyst for an important encounter at the hospital with the brother of Orked's lost love, Jason. The story of Orked's interracial love affair with Jason was told in writer/director Yasmi Ahmad's previous film, Sepet (SFIFF 2005), but Gubra is more than just a sequel. This meditation on forgiveness portrays the variations of familial love and malice through the stories of four families: the happy marriage of a muezzin and his wife, the two prostitutes they befriend, Orked's boisterously affectionate Malaysian family, and Jason's working-class Chinese family. Sharifah Amani reprises her role as the tiny, shrewd Orked, and Harith Iskander and Ida Nerina return as her parents. Nam Ron gives a solid performance as Pak Bilal Li, the muezzin whose religious outlook is solidly rooted in compassion, and Abidah Noor is wonderful as a hefty, no-nonsense servant so beloved by Orked's family that they cannot bring themselves to refer to her as the maid. Ahmad successfully combines the comic and the tragic as her characters face betrayals that range from petty cruelty to outright brutality and confront the question of what is and is not forgivable.

—Pam Troy

• Written by Ahmad. Photographed by Keong Low. With Sharifah Amani, Harith Iskander, Nam Ron, Alan Yun. (109 mins)