Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) which this year is hosted by Edinburgh International Festival, has announced that the Closing Night film for the Festival will be the UK Premiere of BAFTA nominated filmmaker Babak Jalali’s Fremont.

The film centres on troubled 20-something Donya, played in a breakout debut performance by former TV journalist Anaita Wali Zada, who, like her character in the film, was forced to flee Afghanistan. Donya is an Afghan translator whose work for the U.S. Government has led to her becoming lost and adrift in the titular Californian town.   

Donya takes a new job writing the fortunes at a fortune cookie factory and as her messages begin to be read by those throughout the city, her growing sense of longing drives her to send a more profound statement out to the world. 

 Fremont’s dry sense of humour coupled with its stark, black and white cinematography has invited comparisons with the work of Jim Jarmusch and is a deft portrait of a young woman struggling to come to terms with the ghosts of her past, whilst simultaneously yearning for human connection and companionship.   

 Featuring an eclectic cast of unforgettable characters and anchored by a touching performance by Zada, Fremont is an ode to the strange and shared experiences of so many immigrants trying to build a life in a new place. 

 Fremont marks a personal work for British Iranian director Babak Jalali, whose films have screened at countless festivals around the world. His debut feature Frontier Blues screened at EIFF in 2010, and his sophomore feature, Radio Dreams, premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam where it won the Festival’s Tiger Award.   

The cast includes Anaita Wali Zada, Jeremy Allen White (The Bear, Shameless US) Gregg Turkington (Ant-Man, On Cinema), Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) and Bettina Devin (An Evening with Beverly Duff Lynn). The film is co-written by Carolina Cavalli whose current feature as director is the acclaimed film Amanda.  

Filmmaker Babak Jalali has said: “I'm so honoured that Fremont will have its UK premiere as the Closing Night film at EIFF! Growing up in the UK, it was easy to understand the huge cultural impact EIFF has had not just on these shores but also internationally. And the importance of making sure it continues to be here and to thrive. I'm thrilled to be returning to Edinburgh once again to show a film to an audience that I've very fond memories of, and in such a prestigious slot in the programm.”

EIFF Programme Director Kate Taylor has said: “Our programming team was totally captivated by Fremont’s mood, style and subtlety, and adored both the character of Donya and the tender care shown by director Babak Jalali towards his layered protagonist. It’s an honour to close this year’s festival with a film that considers the complex dynamics of diaspora experience in such a nuanced way, whilst frequently delighting with its wry wit and off-beat humour. We can’t wait for Edinburgh audiences to fall under its spell.” 

Fremont will be released in the UK this Autumn by Modern Films. 

Hosted by Edinburgh International Festival in 2023, Edinburgh International Film Festival will present a bold, hand-picked programme celebrating the work of exceptional local and global filmmakers and ensuring the flame of EIFF burns bright for future generations of passionate cinema fans. 

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2023 programme including participating film festival venue information launches on Thursday 6 July 2023.  

Edinburgh International Film Festival runs from Friday 18 to Wednesday 23 August 2023. 

All tickets for Edinburgh International Film Festival go on sale at midday on 7 July via https://www.eif.co.uk/edfilmfest Sign up for the EIFF  newsletter here. 

                                                                        Anaita Wali Zada in Fremont (Photo courtesy of Modern Films)