The independent film “After Freedom,” which was filmed in Glendale, is a story about a first-generation Armenian-American who struggles to survive in America.
Michael, played by Mic Tomasi, immigrates to the U.S. and settles in Glendale as a child with his family in hopes of starting a new life.
Later in life, he works in a supermarket and lives with his father, Leon, who is in his late 50s and played by Greg Satamian. In the beginning Leon gets laid off, thus making their lives even harder.
The film brings forth the longtime vision of director VahÇ Babaian, which is about a man and his complicated life. The movie is based in Glendale, where in real-life is a well-populated area of Armenian-Americans.
Before immigrating, Michael had lived with both of his parents and sister. Life was good when his father was a pilot for British Airways. Michael would see American passengers get off the plane and was in awe. This brought about a yearning to become an American.
But life wasn’t all it was cracked up to be after they moved to America. Life anywhere, even in the land of opportunity, is hard. Soon after this, his mother died and his sister moved away, leaving only Michael to care for his father.
Throughout the picture, Michael’s struggles follow him on the streets. One of his friends with whom he grew up, Avo, played by Shant Bejanian, is a hard-nosed man who constantly uses violence and force to get his point across or when he feels his honor has been tarnished.
Although his brash character seems a bit excessive and unrealistic at times, it’s quite entertaining.
Michael’s morals are continually tested because he doesn’t approve of Avo’s aggressive behavior but fails to do anything about it. Michael’s fiancÇe, Ana, played by Sophie Chahinian, emerges as a voice of reason and gives Michael advice but is unable to force him to follow it. Michael’s pain and frustration are obvious yet fail to evoke sympathy because they are caused by his own indecisiveness.
Eventually, however, a life-changing incident along the California-Mexico border forces Michael to see things differently and reevaluate his relationships.
As a whole, the movie constantly keeps you guessing. Whenever you think you have a certain character figured out, he or she does the unexpected. One instance of this occurs when Michael gets so frustrated with his father Leon throughout the picture. Leon points out many times that Michael isn’t taking his life in the right direction.
Though this can be interpreted as advice, Michael sees it as unneeded commentary. His view is that he can live his own life without help from anyone.
To add to that Michael must chauffeur his father around because Leon never learned how to drive.
But at the end of the film Michael teaches his dad how to drive and eventually Leon passes his driving test. Here the parent-child roles are switched a bit because child has now turned to teacher.
What is also apparent is how the connection between the father and son is still going strong, despite a bit of turbulence in their relationship.
What was also apparent was how some of the younger generation didn’t fit into the stereotypical role of an Armenian-American yet still had a strong sense of their culture, with each character being portrayed in his or her own light.
The focus on personal relationships, both good and bad, defined who the characters were and where they were going.
This movie underscores the idea that, no matter what race you are, there are issues, along with excess baggage. “After Freedom” is not just a story about Armenians, but about all of us who struggle to make it in the