Rowing Films: Down the River – Maybe in a Hat, or Not

A still photo from the Raymond James commercial "The Cautious Hat Maker".
A still photo from the Raymond James commercial “The Cautious Hat Maker”.

11 July 2016

Göran R Buckhorn writes:

We are all eagerly waiting for the release of the rowing movie based on Daniel James Brown’s best-selling book The Boys in the Boat (2013). This movie might be followed – what looks like some unknown time in the future – by a film based on Daniel Boyne’s book Kelly: A Father, A Son, and an American Quest (2008), a biography about the Olympic champion John ‘Jack’ B. Kelly, known in the non-rowing world as the father of film star Grace Kelly. However, other ‘rowing movies’, not produced in Hollywood or America, have been shown at film festivals and have then tip-toed into a few movie theatres around the world.

I came across one of these movies the other day, the Azerbaijan film Down the River, which came out in 2014, I believe. The film script is by Asif Rustamov and Otar Pertakhiya, director is Asif Rustamov and among the actors are Namig Agayev, Mehriban Zaki, Alexandra Andjevska and Teymur Mammadov – all unknown names to me, I am afraid. It is said that the film was shown at this year’s film festival in Cannes in May, but looking on the festival’s website, I cannot find any information supporting this.

A promotion photo for the movie "Down the River".
A promotion photo for the movie “Down the River”.

Down the River is a family drama about a man, Ali, who is a rowing coach for a club in a provincial town. Ali is a rather unpleasant man, who cheats on his wife Leyla with his Polish mistress, Sasha, and pushes his son, Ruslan (or Rustam?), to join the rowing club. The boy is unable to live up to his father’s expectations. Although, Ruslan is on the team, just before an important race, Ali pulls him out of the crew. With the sudden, tragic death of Ruslan, Ali is forced to reevaluate his approach to his way of life.

Incredibly, there is actually a one-minute film trailer of Down the River on YouTube:

East European Film Bulletin published a not so favourable review of Down the River in May 2015. The reviewer is writing that the film lacks ‘Azerbaijaniness’. Read the whiny review here.

Then there is the funny Raymond James’s (as in the financial advisory company) one-minute commercial “The Cautious Hat Maker” about the hat maker Vincent Brimble, who is running his little hat shop in the town of Hattington. The new fashion hats, which are not made by Brimble, are not suitable to wear while rowing, which you will see in the commercial:

And here is a longer video how the commercial “The Cautious Hat Maker” was made in Budapest in 2013:

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