Reviews - Page 63

Giving you our points of view on the latest docs in release and on the circuit.

Review: ‘Killing Patient Zero’

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Killing Patient Zero (Canada, 98 min.) Dir. Laurie Lynd Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere) “People who are young do not understand in any real way, even if they know the fact, that homosexuality was against the law,” says author and activist Fran Leibowitz in Killing Patient Zero. “It was against the law—not just that your parents didn’t like you or people you went to school with didn’t like you. It was actually a crime.” Leibowitz makes an emphatic point in the introductory of Killing Patient Zero that encapsulates the pervasive homophobia that allowed the AIDS crisis to devastate the gay community while the powers that

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Review: ‘The Sound of Masks’

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The Sound of Masks (South Africa/Portugal, 70 min.) Dir. Sara CF de Gouvei Programme: Artscapes (North American Premiere) The Sound of Masks is a wicked cool arts doc about the power of dance. It’s a story of resistance and of keeping cultural identity alive through the arts as director Sara CF de Gouvei spotlights one man, Atanásio Nyusi, and his devotion to preserving Mozambique’s anti-colonial history through dance. Nyusi’s passion is Mapiko, a form of masked dance from Makonde culture that involves telling stories and sharing history through artistic expression. The film, one of the better works to screen at the

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Review: ‘The Disappearance of My Mother’

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The Disappearance of My Mother (Italy, 95 min.) Dir. Beniamino Barrese Programme: Made in Italy (Canadian Premiere) It would be easy to dismiss ahead of time Beniamino Barrese’s portrayal of his mother, the iconic model and activist Benedetta Barzini, as a strangely oedipal fascination that lacks any outward perspective. Yet we’re instead treated to a unique look at a subject who, for very compelling reasons, is reticent to have cameras pointed at her, aware like few others of the power of the lens to manipulate and obfuscate in equal measure. Barzini’s story is in itself fascinating – far more than

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Review: ‘Shooting the Mafia’

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Shooting the Mafia (Ireland, 94 min.) Dir. Kim Longinotto Programme: Artscapes (Canadian Premiere) Kim Longinotto turns her lens on Letizia Battaglia, an 83-year-old photographer who helped document the violence that has plagued her native Sicily. As one of the first photojournalists to cover the brutal mafia wars, Battagliia has become a fixture in local society, praised for her outspoken nature and keen eye. Unfortunately, Longinotto’s own work seems jumbled and uncertain, and never fully comes to grips with a subject who is admittedly reticent to truly open up about her work and passions. Jumping from era to era, the film

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Review: ‘Midnight Traveler’

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Midnight Traveler (USA/Canada/Qatar/UK, 87 min.) Dir. Hassan Fazili Programme: World Showcase (Canadian Premiere) There are many stories to come out of the conflict in Afghanistan, and many more regarding the plight of refugees from areas of conflict, but few have been as harrowing and effective as Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveler. Shot over a period of years on mobile phones, it traces the Fazili family’s escape from their native country into Europe. What sets the story apart is that Fazili was forced to leave because of a film he made. This is the escape of a filmmaker because of an earlier film

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Review: ‘Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool’

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Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (USA/UK, 113 min.) Dir. Stanley Nelson Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere) No two-hour documentary could possibly contain the multitudes of Miles Davis’s talent, but as a general primer on the titanic talent, this PBS documentary does a decent enough job of introducing the performer to a wide audience. From son of a prominent dentist in East St. Louis to trumpeting in the clubs of Manhattan’s 52nd Street, the doc follows Davis as he dabbles in bop, sees his turn with the ground-breaking ensemble album that gives the film its title, as well as through the quintet

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The Edge of Madness: Steve Bannon and ‘The Brink’

The Brink (USA, 91 min.) Dir. Alison Klayman Should documentarians make movies about ultra-conservative toxic scumbags like Steve Bannon? The answer, after watching Alison Klayman’s The Brink, is, unfortunately, “Yes.” The Brink is the latest Bannon doc after Oscar winner Errol Morris debuted American Dharma last year and became something of a film festival pariah. (I didn’t see it, but here’s Daniel Glassman’s review.) Klayman, who directed the superb Ai Weiwei doc Never Sorry, gives a troublingly objective portrait of Bannon and all his racist views as he fights the good fight to expand his populist message worldwide. Forget Us, The Brink is the must-see horror movie of the season.

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How Sweet the Sound

Amazing Grace (USA, 87 min.) Directed by Sydney Pollack and “realized” by Alan Elliot I’ve caught myself a few times over the past week calling Amazing Grace an archival film. “It’s great, but as far as archival films lately, it’s no Apollo 11,” the cocktail hour one-liner goes. Amazing Grace might not truly be an archival film since it brings to the screen unique 16mm footage shot by late director Sydney Pollack of a series of concerts performed by the late Aretha Franklin in 1972. Like the moon landing and behind the scenes action of Apollo 11, the doc provides a one-of-a-kind view for audiences.

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‘Life Without Basketball’ Puts Representation on the Court

Life Without Basketball (USA, 98 min.) Dir. Jon Mercer, Tim O’Donnell Life Without Basketball puts a new spin on the phrase “right to play.” The inspiring doc, which screens at TIFF’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, gives audiences a glimpse into the everyday pleasures of which one can be stripped simply for one’s beliefs. For a six-foot white guy like myself, hitting the basketball court and casually shooting hoops while growing up was a privilege I never had to consider; for a young Muslim-American woman like Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, for whom basketball was her life and dream, the love of the game

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Different Brainwaves: ‘The Divided Brain’

The Divided Brain (Canada, 78 min.) Dir. Manfred Becker The world, like the brain, is split between the left and the right. Left-wingers favour democracy and progress, while the folks on the Right tend to be more about numbers and bureaucracy. In the brain, however, things are reversed: the left hemisphere favours the analytical while the right hemisphere offers a creative drive. Science, colloquially speaking, says that a fine balance between both sides of the brain is good for a person’s cognitive skills, development, and self-expression. The same goes for politics with checks, balances, disagreement, and dialogue. Dr. Iain McGlichrist

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