“Fremont” made quiet waves at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival this year, a Jim Jarmusch-esque, laconic black-and-white dramedy about an Afghan woman making her way in the San Francisco Bay Area after working as a translator for the U.S. military. Directed by Babak Jalali, “Fremont” stars real-life Afghan refugee Anaita Wali Zada in a breakout, first-time role, along with the likes of comedian Gregg Turkington and “The Bear” Emmy nominee Jeremy Allen White in a small but smoldering role. IndieWire shares the exclusive trailer for the Music Box Films release below.
Wali Zada plays Donya, who works for a Chinese fortune cookie factory in San Francisco while living in the East Bay city of Fremont. Formerly a translator for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, the 20something struggles to put her life back in order while living in an apartment complex with other Afghan immigrants. In a moment of sudden revelation and after she’s promoted to actually writing the fortunes, Donya decides to send out a special message in a cookie.
IndieWire’s David Ehrlich wrote out of Sundance that “Fremont” “settles into the sort of semi-enchanted deadpan that flattens its world into a gentle monotone, making its strangeness feel ordinary, and its ordinariness feel strange… a sensation not unlike the vertigo of escaping to the far side of the planet only to find yourself surrounded by people from home.”
“Premature” cinematographer Laura Valladao lensed the movie, which is co-written with Jalali by Carolina Cavalli, director of this year’s indie, coming-of-age favorite “Amanda.” Iranian-British filmmaker Jalali, who looks under the hood of everyday life for stories of ordinary and often marginalized people, previously directed films including Native American portrait “Land,” Iranian music portrait “Radio Dreams,” and “Frontier Blues,” a portrait of Turkmenistan, a country to Iran’s north that’s underseen in cinema.
“Fremont” opens on August 25 in San Francisco at the Roxie, followed by September 1 at New York’s IFC Center and Los Angeles’ Nuart, with more dates to come. The film first premiered in the 2023 Sundance NEXT section before playing SXSW, Seattle, and Karlovy Vary.