A heartfelt social drama with a hip hop groove, Roman Shumunov’s Here and Now depicts the struggles of young immigrants from Russia and Georgia living in Ashdod. Andrey (Vlad Dubinsky) and his friends Renat (Renat Khassanov) and Zura (Zura Vulkan Kartvelishvily) have no illusions, but they can still dream. Despite their willingness to work and good intentions, they run into obstacles at every turn, with little hope of breaking through the endless cycle of poverty. Confronting prejudice and discrimination, misunderstood and rejected by the prevailing culture, their energy and creativity is channeled into rap, with the occasional foray into graffiti. That’s where they tell it like it is, singing it or spray-painting on walls and bridges the truth they know: NO FUTURE.
Andrey is trying to maintain a home for his younger sister Chris (Mishel Vainberg) while their father is in the hospital, but the mortgage is overdue, the interest is mounting and work on the loading dock is far from lucrative. He’s in a band with his friends Renat and Zura, and their upcoming performance in a music festival could be their big break, but first they have to write a song in Hebrew – not their native language – and find time to rehearse. Andrey has good friends who help him out, his neighbor Nastia takes Chris to school in the morning. But loyalty among friends can be complicated, as when Mixer (Eduard Khmelnitsky) wants to store his gun at Andrey’s place. To complicate matters further, the school social worker, seeing that Chris is going through a tough time, seems to feel that the best solution would be to take her out of Andrey’s care.
Shumunov depicts the lives of these young people with sensitivity, following the trajectory of their dilemmas and choices. The cast of non-actors deliver impressive, moving, performances with a very natural, authentic feel that invites the viewer’s empathy. As immigrants, they not only lack the foundations and financial stability that can give a young person a head start in life, but they are outsiders in many ways, having been brought up with language and culture that is very different from the one in which they live. At times, a sense of despair permeates the film, as when Chris tells Andrey that she would want to be a bad guy in the movies because the “bad guys always win.” Yet the compassion and loyalty among this group of friends, their dedication to one another and their families, is touching and inspiring, a source of hope. Above all – there is the music, the determination to transcend the pain through its expression, as Andrey writes: “my soul will not be silenced.”
Here and Now
Israel/2018/87 min/Hebrew, Russian dialogue; Hebrew and English subtitles
Directed by Roman Shumunov; Screenplay: Alex Plavnik and Roman Shumunov; Cinematography: Ziv Berkovich; Editing: Maor Keshet, Haim Tabakman; Music: IZREAL Band, Georgii Khimorida, Didi Erez; Cast: Vlad Dubinsky, Renat Khassanov, Eduard Khmelnitsky, Ifat London, Mishel Vainberg, Zura Vulkan Kartvelishvily