When I was a little girl, my mother would quiz my sisters and I on the countries of the world, using homemade flash cards with hand-drawn maps filled with information she copied out of the encyclopedia. My wanderlust was sparked at a very young age and has been nurtured throughout my life. Watching many of the films from around the world during the festival once again set off my nomadic buttons, none more so than Nomadak TX. More a patchwork quilt of sound and image than a movie, Nomadak TX combined many of the elements that have most intrigued me throughout my life and created out of them a visual and auditory feast. While my days of adventurous travel through dusty towns by camel or muddy villages crammed in the back of a dilapidated pick-up truck feel like almost a life-time ago, watching the two main characters of Nomadak TX travel to far away corners of the world afforded me the opportunity to vicariously re-live my past experiences.
When the film ended, people seemed to leave the theatre feeling energised and happy. Perhaps due to the dark subject matter of many of my chosen films, I can’t say that occurred at the end of many of the other films that I saw. It’s hard not to feel good after hearing a Mongolian man explain his priorities. “The most important things to a nomad” he said, “are their family, their friends, and their horses. If they have these three things, they will have a good life.” When later asked what he wanted most in life, he responded, “Food for my horse. I’m not happy when my horse has no food.” Later on, a Sudanese refugee who had found a home in the forbidding Moroccan desert was asked what his greatest wish was. He responded, “to be happy.” Gesturing at the desolate, windless wasteland behind him, he elaborated, “I only want to find a wife, to live in peace, to settle down here and live right here for the rest of my life.”
While so many films at the festival centred around darkness and death, Nomadak TX chronicled and acclaimed the simplicity and beauty of life. For all these reasons and many more that I haven’t thought of yet, Nomadak TX wins the coveted Erin Parish’s choice for Best of Show in the 7th Belfast Film Festival Award.
(Photo above: Rachel and Erin Parish, Mali)