It is all too easy to take home for granted, especially deep into a pandemic experience that has kept many of us confined there much more than we may have liked. But, take a moment to see the world through the eyes of someone who has to leave their home behind and it can alter your perspective dramatically. Just such an opportunity is offered by A Broken House, a deeply moving short film by Jimmy Goldblum that tells the story of Syrian architect Mohamad Hafez who came to the United States to study architecture on a single-entry visa and, finding himself unable to return, spent his years in exile sculpting life-like renditions of his Damascus neighborhood from found objects and scrap materials.
As the film depicts, this was much more than an exercise in nostalgia. Civil war had broken out in Syria and Hafez’s parents fled as refugees while he was enduring images on the news of violence and bombed out buildings. The models he built became a way of processing this experience in real time and telling a story to the world from a uniquely personal perspective while grasping it was part of much larger mosaic of shared tragedy and loss.
There was this fire inside me to start humanizing refugees and to tell their stories.Mohamed Hafez
There were no doubt many ways in which such a film might have been scored but after listening to the soundtrack created by From the Mouth of the Sun, it is hard to imagine a more ideal choice being made. The rustic minimalism of the arrangements incorporating piano, cello, pump organ, & bowed banjo and the plaintive melodic themes that tie them together create an almost visceral sense of loss, loneliness, and longing, but turned inwards where the embers of fond memories remain aglow. Like Hafez’s models, the music is sculpted by artisan hands into something both damaged and beautiful which ultimately becomes life-affirming.
A Broken House (Original Score) is available digitally and on limited edition cassette from Dronarivm. The album was mastered by Matthew Collings and features layout & design by Ryan Keane whose Lost Tribe Sound label has also released several albums by the band including the recent and highly recommended Light Caught the Edges.