My Friend Shokat

Festival Year:
Director: Bita Ghassemi
Producer: Alec Ploof
Screenwriter: Bita Ghassemi

Amir is a young Persian-American boy who loves his goat Shokat, who lives in the yard of their home. But when Shokat stops producing as much milk as she used to, his sister tells Amir some bad news: it’s too expensive to keep feeding Shokat, and they may have to use the animal for her meat instead.

Amir then sets about trying to save his beloved goat. Using the logic of childhood, he tries to buy her some milk to drink, with the reasoning that she’ll make more of it as a result. But with limited resources, he faces indifference and hostility in his task, along with some kindness and even love — but it may not be enough to save the family goat.

Written and directed by Bita Ghassemi, this short family drama has the directness and bluntness of children who have yet to understand the full rules, consequences and ramifications of the world around them. Its storytelling develops with an elemental simplicity and clarity, ending with an initiation into the sometimes bitter, complicated realities of life.

Based on true events, “My Friend Shokat” is about innocence lost in the face of the difficult exigencies of everyday life, with a tone that deftly blends sweetness with understated irony. It’s also about a family that has to navigates these difficulties — as well as the strangeness of being a different culture in the U.S. — in the best way they can, often on their own. Brother and sister may come together over Shokat’s fate, but that fate is still inevitable, in all its sometimes harsh reality.