Fidan (Zulfiyye Qurbanova, 1984), Semir (Rasim Jafarov, 1978) and Mahmud (Mir-Movsum Mirzazade, 1998), respectively mother, father and son, form a dysfunctional family unit. Unable to communicate, their relationship bounces between the desire for independence, and the need to stay together. Simultaneously heartbreaking and deeply frustrating, this dynamic is put to the test when an unexpected event shakes this family to the core. Mirroring Claudia’s disappearance in Antonioni’s classic L’avventura, Fidan disappears inexplicably during a family day on the beach.
After Fidan’s disappearance is finally resolved, End of Season leaves us with little hope that the event might have cathartically rearranged the values of her family. In the universe of this film, there are no miracles, and any progress is inevitably shadowed by the ghosts of the past.
In Imanov’s film, the personal is political, and the family serves as a window to Azerbaijani society. Having lived and studied in Germany for years, the director returned to Azerbaijan to tell this self-funded story of the state’s struggle to reconcile the mores of its past with the values of modernity. Like most New East states, the transition from Communism to Capitalism in Azerbaijan has been a long and painful process, additionally reinforced by the further capitalist push that followed the oil boom. It is a difficult endeavor to forget a past that is very much present – a point the film makes using not only the characters’ conflicted values but also the architectural spaces they inhabit.