Reviews - Page 77

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

Review: Zaatari Djinn


Zaatari Djinn (Netherlands, 90 min.) Dir. Catherine van Campen   Years ago, in south-western Morocco, I was walking across a wide plain with Mohammed Baidou, a friend who loved telling tourists anything and everything about his village and its culture. It was a dark night, nobody in sight as far as the eye could see, and I said something in a loud voice. He told me to bring it down because I was attracting djinn. Djinn, in Catherine van Campen’s engaging film, Zaatari Djinn is a reference point, motif, and metaphor. During a Q&A following a screening at the Rencontres

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Review: ‘My Piece of the City’

My Piece of the City (Canada, 60 min.) Dir. Moze Mossanen   Earlier this year, Charles Officer’s Unarmed Verses wowed audiences at Hot Docs and other festivals with its story of youths in Toronto’s Villaways housing community. Officer’s doc centred on one young woman, Francine, and saw through her eyes the transformation and redevelopment of her neighbourhood. Francine watched her community and life transform before her eyes as developers changed the character of Villaways. At the same time, the film featured Francine pursuing music lessons and finding her voiced while the city stripped Villaways of its own. A complementary verse

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Review: ‘Brasilia: Life After Design’

Brasilia: Life After Design (Canada, 88min.) Dir. Bart Simpson   Through scrutinizing the complexities behind Brasilia’s glossy surface and embracing its politics, economics and social issues, Bart Simpson embarks on a journey through the city’s inventive urban planning and architecture in his new documentary Brasilia: Life After Design. Simpson’s fascination with Brazil’s capital is understandable. The design of Brasilia was conceived on a cross-axial grid, with one section, the Monumental Axis being designed for government, monuments and institutions and the other, the Residential Axis being used by the inhabitants. The architects were the acclaimed Oscar Niemeyer and Lucio Costa and they

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Review: ’24 Snow’

24 Snow (Russia, 90 min.) Dir. Mikhail Barynin   What’s it like to live in a place where temperatures drop to minus 65°C? Ask Sergei, a horse breeder from the Sakha region in Russia and the protagonist in new Mikhail Barynin’s documentary 24 Snow. Yakutia or the Sakha Republic is situated in northeastern Siberia, a land famous for its austere climate. The region is predominantly populated by ethnic Sakha people and has two official languages: Russian and Sakha. Sergei’s family lives in a small village bordering the Arctic Circle but he is only a visitor in his own house due to

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Review: ‘Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas’

Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas (Sweden/Germany/Finland, 80min.) Dir. Joakim Demmer   Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas confronts and redefines the conventional Western understanding of international development by examining the toll this practice has taken on Ethiopia. Known for its fertility and biodiversity, Ethiopia grapples with famine and poverty, while relying on food aid to feed its starving population. Simultaneously, amidst the heightened global interest in commercial farming, the Ethiopian government has started leasing hectares of its land to international agricultural investors. As famine looms in Ethiopia, the government keeps allowing private companies to export food overseas while their own population

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Review: ‘Whose Streets?’

Whose Streets? (USA, 90 min.) Dir. Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis   Whose Streets? is a significant fusion of citizen journalism and documentary filmmaking. Director Sabaah Folayan and co-director Damon Davis provide a courageous and eye-opening account of the 2014 events in Ferguson, Missouri following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old Black male, by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white police officer armed with a handgun and the department’s pervasive history of institutionalized racism. Whose Streets? gives footage from the thick of the protests as Ferguson residents rallied to draw attention to the rampant violence and oppression of Black

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Review: ‘On Putin’s Blacklist’

On Putin’s Blacklist (Canada, 76 min.) Dir. Boris Ivanov   One can’t label a charge of “Fake News” against Boris Ivanov’s timely documentary On Putin’s Blacklist. This documentary raises numerous concerns about Russia’s fall into the dark ages in the era of Vladimir Putin. Ivanov outlines the many reasons for which Russia is a human rights activist’s worst nightmare and, while much of the news is familiar, On Putin’s Blacklist makes a compelling argument that few countries deserve a greater sense of shame than Russia during Putin’s reign of terror. Ivanov doesn’t spend too much time on worrying about the

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