There's a scene in "Here" — a beautifully shot travelogue of a movie starring Ben Foster that premiered at Sundance — in which Foster's character is detained at the Armenian border. He's a high-tech cartographer named Will Shepard, who is journeying across the country with his tour guide/love interest, and as guards with machine guns looks on menacingly, it's unclear if the movie is about to take a dark turn.
The production itself threatened to take a dark turn, as Foster told us at Sundance, when the film crew itself was detained. "We were pulled over by the KGB. We were shooting on the Iranian border," he explained. "We were locked down at the border. It was wild."
That run-in with ex-Soviet security forces turned out to be just one of the unforgettable experiences Foster took away from his two and a half months living and working in Armenia for "Here." Looking back on it, he said he'd never been more impressed with the "level of generosity to strangers" and "the humanity of a culture" than he had been while stationed in Armenia.
Shepard, too, embraces the generosity and humanity of the Armenian people as he searches for a sense of belonging thousands of miles away from his American homeland. As he travels and maps the terrain, he ends up bouncing from one boozy encounter to the next, sharing wine and homemade vodka until American and Armenian alike are laughing like old friends.
In this sense, Foster said, "Here" can be thought of "as an alcoholic fever dream." But dig deeper, he explained, and you'll find "a very dense love story" filled with hallucinatory sequences speaking to Shepard's loss of self and interpersonal connection.
"It's a very experimental, uncompromised, independent film," he said. "Some people will absolutely hate this film and others, it will never leave their hearts. It feels so good to be able to participate in that kind of experience."
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