A fine example of the kind of poetic realism espoused in the films of East Indian director Satyajit Ray (to whom the film is dedicated), this low-key fable is set in a remote mountain village and tells the story of a teacher who takes matters into his own hands when local authorities refuse to help him deal with a wealthy but obnoxious neighbor who callously builds an outhouse beneath the teacher's window. Angrily, the teacher complains to a town official, but the unsympathetic brute says there is nothing he can do because the neighbor has broken no laws. Fed up, the angry educator gets his revenge by selling his livestock, buying the property adjacent to his neighbor's and digging a communal latrine. Focused on his vendetta, the teacher ignores threats from the police, the neighbor, and the official. Even his wife's selfless sacrifice of her own moral beliefs does not divert the educator from his mission. Much to the surprise of everyone involved, his tenacity ultimately brings good fortune to the entire village. Despite its low-budget and simple production values, this black-and-white-lensed drama from Tajikistan, co-directed by Jamshed Usmonov and South Korean filmmaker Min Biong Hun, won top honors at the 1998 Turin Film Festival, a FIPRESCI International Critics award, and was voted the festival's most popular film by audiences.
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