Quite a different production this one, since Malaysian Lim Kah-wai travelled to Eastern Europe and worked with locals, in a film that actually looks like a Balkan production, since it is completely stripped of any kind of SE Asian elements.
Ferdi is an ethnic Turk who has migrated to Slovenia from Macedonia, and runs guest houses and apartments in Ljubljana, with the help of various locals. His wife Nurdan is helping and supporting him any way she can, but despite her faithfulness and his adherence to Islam, he always chases single women who stay at his properties, frequently neglecting her. After a confrontation when he is drunk, he asks her to leave him and the woman complies. Soon though, Ferdi understands her value and decides to go to their hometown in Macedonia to find her and convince her to come back.
Lim Kah-wai managed to shoot a Balkan film that has no oriental elements, despite the fact that he is not from the area, which is an accomplishment by itself. The movie is extremely realistic and Lim has captured the essence of Balkan people, particularly the men, although a bit on the cliché side. In that fashion, Ferdi is a man constantly trying to make more money, drinks, smokes, and flirts non-stop, neglecting his wife, until she abandons him and then realizes her importance. As a Balkan myself, (I am from Greece actually) I think this is one of the most common stories one can find in the region, with innumerable similar examples.
On a second, but not secondary level, “No Where, Now Here” is a love story, although a rather melancholic one, with this element deriving mostly from Nurdan, and in the second part, from Ferdi. This melancholia actually extends to the whole film, despite the fact that Ferdi seems to have the time of his life, both professionally and in terms of entertainment.
The fact that Lim has used local, non-actors helps the most in the realism of the story, as is the case with the location shooting, which includes scenes in Slovenia and Macedonia. In that fashion, the film also functions as a tour guide to the beauties of the area, and even as a folklore documentary about the people there. The cinematography makes the best out of this tactic, with the camera highlighting the aforementioned aspect quite nicely, again with a focus on realism.
Ferdi Lutviji in the homonymous role is the “star” of the movie, with him appearing almost in every scene, highlighting the nature of Balkan men in utterly realistic, (although a bit clichéd, as I mentioned before), fashion.
“No Where, Now Here” is a true Balkan film and a great introduction to the area and its people, by a director who seems to have truly captured the essence of both.