Hamy Ramezan’s debut fiction feature, Any Day Now (Ensilumi), is a reflection of his own journey as an Iranian refugee who settled in Finland. The film follows the journey of the Mehdipour family in refugee housing, and the progress they make while waiting on the outcome of their asylum request. Any Day Now explores how 13-year-old Ramin (Aran-Sina Keshvari) emotionally manages the transition, as he not only faces the pressures of starting at a new school but also wants to set a good example for his younger sister Donya (Kimiya Eskandari).
It’s unclear how long the Mehdipour family has been in Finland, however their bond with local couple Onni (Eero Melasniemi) and Helena (Kristiina Halkola) suggests that it’s been a few months at least. Any Day Now doesn’t suffer from this unknown element, with the pace being very much driven by the anticipation of whether or not the Mehdipours are granted permanent residence. Yet, the family appears very settled already, with the mother Mahtab (Shabnam Ghorbani) beginning every morning with a wake up routine that comforts both the kids and her husband (Shahab Hosseini). Her small gestures fill them all with a sense of security, and assurance of the family unit. A deeper examination of the parental relationship would’ve benefitted the story, but there’s something refreshing about the focus on the children’s worlds. The backdrop of the Finnish woodlands is breath-taking, with the trees enclosing the family as a barrier, almost as if nature will keep them safe from the impending decision.
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Ramin’s anxiety is the most viscerally painful, as he unexpectedly vomits when his nerves become too much to cope with. The boy hides his feelings from his family, not wanting to inflict his troubles on them. An identity crisis emerges when Ramin struggles to talk about himself at school, and avoids conversations at home. His friendship with best mate Jigi (Vilho Rönkkönen) keeps him grounded in reality, and makes him feel like a part of a community. Despite the tense atmosphere, the boys jump into every activity, including a painfully awkward yet amusing class scene where all the kids must dance in couples to Johann Strauss II’s second waltz. Ramin finally gets the chance to be close to the girl he has a crush on, and the cinematography captures the hazy bubble he’s experiencing.
Despite consistent pacing, Any Day Now fails to fully engage with certain aspects of the story. For example, the film doesn’t explain how the children formed a bond with Onni and Helena, and the couple’s emotional responses to the family’s situation isn’t explored either. Instead, Ramezan chooses to focus on Bahman’s friendship with Fazel (Muhammed Cangore), a man who also resides in the building. The decision to not reference the family’s past detracts from the intense nature of the film.
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Any Day Now is a strong contender within the Generation strand of the Berlinale, showcasing brilliant performances from Keshvari and Rönkkönen. The film combats stereotypes of refugees seeking asylum in Europe, but more importantly highlights the value of education, friendships and optimism when beginning a new journey.
Elle Haywood (@ellekhaywood) is a freelance film/culture writer, festival juror and submissions reviewer. She is currently an Associate Editor at Take One and studying a Masters at the National Film & Television School. Her work specialises in international festivals focusing on Scandinavia and Western Europe, sociopolitical events and independent filmmaking.