Fremont (2023) Movie Script

[whimsical music]
[scribbling sounds]
[engine revs]
[jazz music]
[music fades]
Joanna: I was watching that
TV show last night.
-That guy won a million dollars.
Just general knowledge
Maybe you should try it.
You went to college and stuff.
You're not gonna need a million
dollars when you're old.
Hey, Fan.
What would you do
with a million dollars?
-I would build a community pool.
[door closes]
[door opens]
[both in Dari]
[crickets chirping]
[child babbling]
Donya: [in Dari]
[in Dari]
Suleyman: [in Dari]
[jazz music]
[brakes squealing]
[faint chatter]
[door squeaking]
[in English]
Can I leave earlier tomorrow?
-At what time?
-1:30 P.M.
-I have a doctor's appointment.
-Ricky: Of course you can.
-Thank you.
Joanna: Want me to see if he has
a friend he can bring?
We could go
on a blind double date?
-You sure?
I think I would hate
a blind date.
You don't know anything
about him, right?
Joanna: Nothing.
[jazz music]
Donya: Where is he taking you?
Joanna: It's a blind date,
so we agreed upon
a specific location.
We're going to
a Mexican restaurant.
If it all goes well, eventually
we'll even move in together.
Then we can share the rent.
Donya: Where will you
put your mom?
Joanna: I don't know.
I'll just get her an extra bed
and put it somewhere, I guess.
Do you have an extra bed?
Donya: No, I only have
one single bed.
[music ends]
[cell phone rings]
Having a single bed
is very wrong,
according to
The Laws Of Attraction,
because it doesn't invite
the possibility of company.
You should be sleeping
in a double bed,
even if you're sleeping alone.
I can't fit a double bed
in my bedroom.
Okay, well, I'm gonna finish
the chapter
and then go to sleep.
-Good night, Donya.
-Good night, Joanna.
[soft snoring]
I have an appointment
with Dr. Anthony.
Your name?
Well, the appointment
is not in my name.
It's in the name
of Salim Dabiri.
He made the appointment for you?
Do you have
an appointment card?
But this is an appointment
specifically for Mr. Dabiri.
I know, but he couldn't make it,
so he gave it to me.
I don't think that's possible.
Well, if someone can't make
their appointment slot
they need to
call us and cancel.
Then, we would allocate
the appointment
to another patient.
I'm another patient.
Yes, I understand,
but there are other patients
of Dr. Anthony's
that would be given
the appointment
if there's been
a cancellation.
Give me a moment.
[knocks on door]
[opens door]
[closes door]
To be honest with you,
this isn't really
the way things work.
It's not like a movie ticket
where if you can't get
to the 3:15 showing,
you give the ticket
to your friend.
It's not like that
with a doctor's appointment,
and Salim knows that very well.
I'm here to ask for something
to help me sleep.
All right, well...
Are you--
Do you live in Fremont?
And are you also from
Yes, I am.
On the Special Immigration Visa?
Yes, I was a translator
in Afghanistan.
Well... [clears throat]
the way it works,
we have a certain number
of appointments
for, uh, self-payers
or, uh, the insured.
our paying customers.
And then I have a few slots
that I do pro bono.
Those spots are at a premium,
and so we have to follow
the protocol
to make sure that it's fair
for everyone.
So, the people
who have been waiting,
or the people that
are already in the system,
-get to see--
-I'm here now.
Well, I can see that I--
Yeah, I understand
you're here now,
but there is a protocol
that we need to follow
to make this system work.
I'm not leaving.
[clicking pen open and closed]
Um, well...
Let me just get some general
information from you, then.
Um... name?
Donya Massoudi.
Uh, date and place of birth?
Thirteenth, June, 1996.
Kabul, Afghanistan.
And how long have you been here
in the United States?
Eight months.
And, um, did you work as
a translator for the government,
or was that private sector?
For the United States Army.
How long did you do that for?
I just want sleeping pills.
-How's your general health?
You have nightmares?
Not so much.
I can't sleep well.
Do you have a lot of thoughts
when you go to bed?
[crickets chirping]
Joanna: You should just
go see my palm reader.
She never has a waiting list.
She reads and understands people
better than any psychiatrist.
You know what she told me?
She said that
the reason I overeat
is because I don't wanna be like
my mom, who's skinny.
If that's not pure psychology,
I don't know what is.
She can also clean karmas.
I'm gonna go
and get some coffee.
I think a fun working
environment is essential.
I love coming in to work.
You know...
[clears throat]
my father opened
this factory many years ago.
And I used
to come with him
when I was
a little kid.
But then he stopped
bringing me
because I ate all
the cookies all the time.
I love the cookies.
I ate so many.
It was so much fun.
I'll see you later.
-[door opens]
-[bells jingling]
-TV in foreign language]
-[door closes]
[in Dari]
[TV continues]
[water running]
[footsteps approaching]
[Turkington] Go ahead,
take a seat.
Okay, let's see
what we have here.
Tell me a bit about
the situation in Afghanistan
before you left to come here.
Did you live with your parents,
for instance?
Do you have, uh,
pictures of your family
you can show me?
Do you have any family members
in America?
They're all in Afghanistan?
You must miss them very much,
I'm sure.
Was your family ever threatened?
They told them they would come
after my little brother
if I don't come back.
Has any harm been done
to your family,
by that I mean physical harm?
When you were there,
was your family unhappy
about what you were doing?
I only did the work
for the money
and getting a visa to come here.
Nothing else.
Do you feel guilty?
How do you, uh,
like it here?
Is America what you thought
it would be?
I didn't think how it would be.
I didn't even think
about America.
I just wanted
to get out of there.
I would have gone to
Germany, France, England,
El Salvador, or anywhere.
There weren't many women
that were doing
translation work
like you were doing.
In that sense, uh,
you're sort of a pioneer,
so your family must
be proud of that.
I left,
but they are still there.
They have to hear people
talk to them
about raising a daughter
who was a traitor.
Do you think you are a traitor?
I don't spend much time
Too busy with my social life.
[jazz music]
[in Dari]
[playing "Amazing Grace"]
I think I'm gonna stop
with the blind dates.
It's not...
working out.
I'm not meeting
You don't need
You need someone special.
Next time you answer like
a fortune cookie, I'll eat you.
It happened once.
No, it's happened
a lot of times.
It hurts.
You have to keep meeting people.
There is this other guy,
a son of my mom's friend.
He's recently divorced and
she wants to set me up with him.
Maybe I'll go.
[machine beeps]
Did you accompany
the Army on missions?
No, I translated
in U.S. Army bases
when instruction were being
given to the Afghan soldiers
on how to use
new equipment and arms.
Did you see much fighting,
Several bases I worked with
were attacked
in different times...
and that's fighting I saw.
How did you leave Afghanistan?
On one of the evacuation flights
after Taliban return.
But I know I'm very lucky.
How do you mean?
One translator I worked with
was killed almost immediately
after he stopped working
for the U.S. Army.
He was waiting for his paper
to come over here.
One of my friends,
Payam, he was also translator.
He couldn't make it
to the evacuation flights.
I know I'm lucky,
and I know they're unlucky.
I've met with
many former translators
and they have different reasons
for doing what they did.
But in most cases,
they suffered from
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
They're left feeling like maybe
in some way they're responsible.
And so, they're haunted
by bad thoughts, nightmares.
And they feel
that they can't trust others,
so they...
isolate themselves.
Maybe it's just a sense of guilt
that prevents them
from talking to others
and getting the help that
they really desperately need.
Do you know what Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder is?
I don't suffer from it.
I just have problem with sleep.
If I had some sleeping pills,
my problems would go away.
I-I chose my specialization
for a reason.
I admire people like you
who have stories to tell
of courage and displacement.
Guess which immigrant hero
I love the most?
White Fang.
The dog?
No, he's not a dog.
He's-he's one-quarter dog.
He's three-quarters wolf.
I will give you a prescription
for the sleeping pills,
but I think it's important that
we use these sessions
to talk about
some of these issues.
"Your genuine talent
will find its way to success."
Joanna: "Your financial outlook
is great at this time."
That's nonsense.
[loud thud]
She's dead.
But she was also getting too old
to write about the future.
We are looking for someone else
to replace her.
-Wouldn't you be interested?
[jazz music]
Ricky: Fortune messages
are a responsibility.
or unconsciously,
they are going to act
on the flux of things.
They shouldn't
be too lucky.
They shouldn't be
too unlucky.
They shouldn't
be too original.
They shouldn't be
too obvious.
They shouldn't
be too short.
They shouldn't be
too long and so on.
You get the point?
I think so.
The point is, my father and I
built our factory
according to
a very ancient quote,
"Virtue stands
in the middle."
You know?
I love quotes
very much.
This is a small gift
that I personally prepared
to welcome you
to your new adventure.
Thank you.
Open it.
It is a head massager.
I use it, too.
It helps me
to gather creative ideas.
Try it.
You run it through your head,
down to your scalp.
It's a lot more fun
if someone else does it for you.
I would offer
to do it,
but it is
Thank you.
I've been in this business
for ages.
I've seen message writers
come and go,
and I learned
one thing.
The ones who stay
are the ones who know
how to talk about love.
And the ones
who are best
at talking about love
are the ones
who love themselves.
Do you love
Then you should
say it out loud.
-I love myself.
"The fortune you seek is
in another cookie."
Wise, right?
Yes, very.
Does somebody check
what you write
or can you write
whatever you want?
I can write what I want.
Then maybe you can use
this, uh, opportunity
as an exercise of sorts.
Say, if there's something
that's making you
happy or sad,
you can unburden yourself
by jotting it down on paper.
Of course, obviously,
there's, uh,
there's the fact that you gotta
make it fortune-cookie-friendly
when you condense it
down to one line,
but, um, that can
certainly be done.
Perhaps it would make the whole
thing more fulfilling for you.
[man on TV in foreign language]
[phone vibrates and chimes]
[man and woman chatter on TV]
[in Dari]
How's your literary
production going?
It's time to go, anyway.
I'm coming.
Where's your mom?
She's off taking photographs
in the wilderness somewhere.
She'll be back
in a couple of days.
[gentle music plays]
[Joanna vocalizing]
Just another diamond day
Just a blade of grass
Just another bale of hay
In the horses path
Just another field
to plough
Just a grain of wheat
Just a sack of seed to sow
And the children eat
Just another life to live
Just a word to say
Just another love to give
And a diamond day
[song ends]
I've been working
on a little project.
I wrote some, uh, messages
of the type that you might find
in a cookie.
Of course,
I don't have the technology
or the know-how to do this
on a computer,
so what I had to do was
get a sheet of paper
and a ruler and a pen
and write these all by hand,
and then, uh, using
a pair of scissors,
cut them into strips.
It was a very satisfying
arts and crafts project.
They're all original.
Have a look.
"A ship in harbor is safe,
but that's not why
ships are built."
"A ship in harbor is safe,
but that's not why
ships are built."
-You see what it means, right?
What a joy this exercise was.
[in Dari]
[pensive music]
[music fades]
Daddy, I'm done.
Can I have
the fortune cookies now?
-I'm done.
Can I have
the fortune cookies?
All right.
"You will travel
to many exotic-exotic places
in your lifetime."
-You better take me, too.
Let me see
what mine says.
I'm just a kid,
so how could I not take you?
Well, it's been done.
"Some pursue happiness,
you create it."
[pensive music]
"A cheerful letter or message
is on its way to you."
[in Chinese]
[in Chinese,
then in English] Let's see.
[in English] "No obstacles
will stand in the way
of your success this month."
[in Chinese]
[melancholy music resumes]
"You deserve to have a good time
after a hard day's work."
-Like this.
-Damn right, yeah.
"Your friends will be
truly helpful
in your next month's
[music resumes]
[in Chinese]
[music resumes]
[muted chatter]
I don't understand
what this means.
Is this number
a Chinese omen or something?
[in Chinese]
-How's it going?
What city in Afghanistan
were you born in?
I was born
in Shenzhen.
I was just looking
at the world.
[melancholy music]
Ricky: In Afghanistan,
you have many different
people, right?
Donya: Yes.
Ricky: In China, too.
Did you know
China and Afghanistan
share a border?
Did you know?
Donya: Yes, I did.
Ricky: I think people
who share borders
share many similarities.
Us, we share a border,
so we have similarities.
It's okay to feel lonely
It would be very strange
if people did not feel lonely.
If they did not think
about other possibilities...
about other people.
[music continues]
[music fades]
[both in Dari]
Most Afghans I know
who live in Fremont
work in Fremont.
Why do you have
a job in San Francisco?
I thought it would be good to be
out of Fremont half of the day.
I wake up, I see Afghans.
I go to sleep, the last people
I see, they're Afghans.
And I thought it would be lovely
to see Chinese people sometimes.
You don't enjoy
being with Afghans?
Some of them, yes.
Some of them, no.
Let me tell you a little of
the story of White Fang.
White Fang is the sole survivor
of his family
who were decimated by famine.
And so, he has to learn
to navigate the harsh reality
of the north,
which is kill, or be killed.
None of his experiences
prepare him for his owner,
who turns him
into a vicious killer.
This cruel man has him fighting
other dogs to the death.
And it's during
one of these fights
that White Fang meets his match
in a bulldog
who nearly kills him.
Fortunately, he's rescued
by a man named Scott
who takes White Fang in
and tames him.
He brings him back to California
where White Fang learns to love
Scott and Scott's family.
Now, eventually,
White Fang has puppies
with Collie,
Scott's other dog,
and they live
happily ever after.
He didn't think these things,
Donya, he merely did them.
He wasn't directed
by abstract reasoning,
but by instinct, sensation,
and emotion.
What's the meaning
of "decimated"?
Wiped out.
[in Dari]
[in Dari]
[melancholy music]
I can sell you coffee
if you like.
-No, thanks.
-Black is fine.
-Are you happy working here?
-Yes, thanks.
That'll be $2.50.
[cell phone rings and vibrates]
I think I have a blind date.
I got a text message.
When did this come about?
It's a long story.
Well, this is very unexpected.
Wait, read me the message.
I'll tell you if he's legit.
It's a man, right?
Sounds like he is.
And you're into men, right?
I think so, yes.
Read me the message.
Okay, he says,
"I don't know if
you are still available."
Good, he's polite.
"I would love to see you
at the Asia Blue Pottery shop,
which is on 70 Avenue,
on Saturday afternoon."
Okay, this is getting better.
If he wants to meet somewhere
public, he's not a creep.
And it sounds like maybe
he works at that pottery place,
which is great, too,
because it means he has a job.
So, maybe he's a potter.
He says, "Ask for the deer."
He says, "Ask for the deer."
Someone who has
the nickname "Deer"
can either be very arrogant
or very hot,
-or both of them.
-Or none of them.
I'm gonna lend you my mom's car
to go to Bakersfield.
It's a few hours away.
I don't know if I'm going to go.
Yes. Yes, you are definitely
going to go.
"White Fang, uncompanionable,
solitary, morose,
scarcely looking
to right or left,
forbidding of aspect,
remote and alien,
was accepted as an equal
by his puzzled elders.
They quickly learned
to leave him alone,
neither venturing hostile acts,
nor making overtures
of friendliness.
If they left him alone,
he left them alone.
A state of affairs
that they found,
after a few encounters,
to be pre-eminently desirable.
In mid-summer, White Fang
had an experience.
Trotting along in his silent way
to investigate a new tepee,
which had been erected
on the edge of the village
while he was away with
the hunters after moose,
he came full upon his mother.
He paused and looked at her.
He remembered her vaguely,
but he remembered her,
and that was more
than could be said for her.
She lifted her lip at him
in the old snarl of menace,
and his memory became clear.
His forgotten cubhood...
all that was associated
with that familiar snarl,
rushed back to him.
Before he had known the gods,
she'd been to him
the center pin of the universe."
[blows nose]
White Fang is a very brave dog.
[voice trembling] He's a wolf.
[continues blowing nose]
I relate to him
just like he wasn't accepted
by the other pups...
-[continues blowing nose]
-...because he was a wolf.
I was never accepted
by the other translators
because I'm a woman.
I was separated
from my mother, too,
when I was forced to come here.
It's a very touching story.
I'm glad you love the story
as much as I do.
[in Dari]
I'm Donya.
You're so kind.
Thank you.
I'm happy to be here.
I'm good with anything.
You can order
for the both of us.
[upbeat music plays]
[turns volume up]
[woman sings
in foreign language]
-[song ends]
-[car hood pops open]
Daniel: Hi.
Uh, you need a hand?
No, just
checking the oil.
-You can manage?
All right.
Uh, you sell oil here?
No need to buy it.
-Can you help me?
[grunts softly] Okay. Thanks.
You know how to use
that dipstick, though, right?
Dipstick, yeah, it's...
that right there.
My brother taught me
how to check the oil,
but I never
had to change it.
Well... it's all done.
-There's some oil left in there.
-Thank you.
Dipstick's also an idiot.
It's, uh...
I mean, the...
the word "dipstick"
means "idiot."
Uh, can I leave
the car here?
I'm gonna get
something to eat.
Sure, I was about to go
get something to eat
myself, too, so...
Where are you from?
Where are you headed?
I'm going to
Your accent doesn't sound
very Fremont.
-I'm from Afghanistan.
-You studying?
I'm a writer.
I've never met
an Afghanistani before.
-An Afghan.
You-you're the first
Afghan I've met.
You seem like a friendly people.
[chuckles] We are.
I'm just not a good example.
I'm, um, I'm alone all day,
so that's why I talk so much
during my lunch break.
Actually, thinking I should
hire someone
so I can have someone
to talk to.
I am actually thinking
I should hire someone.
I never understood
how a single mechanic
can bear the responsibility
on his shoulders.
You know, deciding
if a car is good to go.
All responsible jobs,
they're performed in twos.
Right? You think of airline
pilots or surgeons.
Cars carry lives.
What if one day
I'm a bit distracted
or in a very bad mood?
And sometimes,
you just wanna be alone
and eat your sandwich, right?
I have something
I have to do anyway.
Um... can I offer you
a cup of coffee?
I don't drink coffee.
Thank you.
I'm not really
a writer.
I just write
fortune cookie messages,
and usually for
a Chinese restaurant.
I don't eat at Chinese
restaurants very often.
I'll usually
eat my lunch here and, uh...
well, for dinner,
I'll-I'll eat here too.
How much do I owe you?
No, it's on the house.
If you ever come back,
it'll be on the house, too.
Thank you.
It was nice to meet you.
And you.
[woman singing
in foreign language resumes]
[game noises on cell phone]
Welcome to Asia Blue,
may I help you?
I'm looking for the deer.
One second.
[game over sounds]
You work at the cookie factory,
The owner of the factory
is a friend of my boss.
She told me you would've
came today but...
she's been postponing
for one month
and didn't want us
to deliver it.
She didn't wanna pay
delivery fees.
[melancholy music]
Do you want me to wrap it up?
[music continues]
[music fades]
[music plays faintly inside]
[music continues faintly]
[turns music off]
I brought you a deer.
I really wanted one.
[train signal ringing]
[pleasant music]
Just another diamond day
Just a blade of grass
Just another bale of hay
On the horses path
[singer vocalizing]
Just another field
to plough
Just a grain of wheat
Just a sack of seed to sow
And the children eat
Just another life to live
Just a word to say
Just another love to give
And a diamond day
[song ends]
[instrumental music]
[music fades]