Reviews - Page 81

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

Review: ‘The Silence of Others’

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The Silence of Others USA, Spain. 96 Minutes. Dir. Almunena Carracedo, Robert Bahar. Program: The Good Fight (North American Premiere)   During the post-War years, Spain had a relatively benign international image, through its tourist-friendly advertising and a military alliance with the Americans. Yet the truth is Franco’s administration was a murderous regime, responsible for torture, concentration camps and forced labour, child stealing and hundreds of thousands of political killings in the worst post-war repression in Europe outside of the Soviet Union. Since the new millennium there has been a social movement, accompanied by literature and academic studies designed to

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Review: ‘I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story’

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I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story (Australia, 96 min.) Dir. Jessica Leski Programme: Nightvisions (World Premiere)   There is, like, a science to making the perfect boy band. Seriously. Dara, a 33-year-old brand strategist from Australia and proud Take That fangirl, breaks down the factors that define and unite boybands throughout the history of popular music. Standing before a whiteboard with the intensity, determination, and semi-seriousness of a PhD student constructing her dissertation, Dara lays out the evidence. Boy bands typically feature 3-5 young (but not too young) heartthrobs who make girls swoon with their sugary lyrics

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Review: ‘Kinshasa Makambo’

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Kinshasa Makambo (France, 75 min.) Dir: Dieudo Hamadi Programme: World Showcase   Many are the films offering street-level views of the spate of protests that have swept the globe since Occupy and the Arab Spring: The Square, Winter on Fire, Whose Streets?, etc. Add Kinshasa Makambo to that list. The film is about the movement to depose Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who has refused to hold elections after serving two terms. As with most contemporary documentaries of this kind, Kinshasa Makambo is not didactic; rather, it’s an immersion in a grassroots movement and the

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Review: ‘The Accountant of Auschwitz’

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The Accountant of Auschwitz (Canada, 80 minutes) Dir: Matthew Shoychet Programme: The Good Fight.(World Premiere)   Recent studies show that the Nazi slaughter of millions of men, women, children, and even infants is fading from memory, particularly among millennials. Some believe that two million, not six million, Jews were murdered. Many have never heard of Auschwitz, let alone less known death camps. The people surveyed are not Holocaust deniers; it’s just that their awareness is sketchy at best. World premiering at Hot Docs, The Accountant of Auschwitz carries weight not only because it helps to keep memory alive in a

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Review: ‘Netizens’

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Netizens (USA, 97 min.) Dir. Cynthia Lowen Programme: Silence Breakers (International Premiere)   Hot Docs spotlights the Silence Breakers this year with a special line-up of films that capture the passion, energy, rage, and impact of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s precipitous fall that rocked Hollywood and workplace relations worldwide. Of all these all-female directed films in the line-up, Cynthia Lowen’s Netizens represents female voices in the festival’s splashy Scotiabank Big Ideas series in which filmmakers and subjects engage in conversations following the film. There couldn’t be a better film than Netizens with which

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Review: ‘Witkin & Witkin’

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Witkin & Witkin (Mexico, 93 min.) Dir. Trisha Ziff Program: Made in Mexico (International Premiere)   Being a twin can sometimes feel like being in a circus sideshow. People gawk. They stare. They ask questions nobody would ever ask a “single.” As a twin, I can relate to the stories presented in Witkin & Witkin about twin artists Jerome, a painter, and Joel-Peter, a photographer. For example, my twin brother and I both work in film. He’s a publicist and I’m a writer. It works well, except when his movies stink (though that never happens!), but someone always makes a

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Review: ‘The Distant Barking of Dogs’

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The Distant Barking of Dogs (Denamrk/Finland/Sweden, 86 min.) Dir. Simon Lereng Wilmont   “Every dog is a lion in its own house.” It is almost a cliché at this point for documentaries about war to focus on the neutral, innocent civilians who could not care less about the conflict and just want to get on with their lives. At first, The Distant Barking of Dogs seems to be one of these—it is; and that is a fine thing for it to be—but it is also, by the end, something more, something darker. The film is about two little boys—cousins Oleg

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Review: ‘Obscuro Barroco’

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Obscuro Barroco (France/Greece, 60 min.) Dir. Evangelia Kranioti Programme: Nightvisions (North American Premiere)   A lyric ode to bodies and cities, an essay on self-invention, a multi-sensory immersion in the sights and sounds of Rio de Janeiro during Carnival: Obscuro Barroco is, gloriously, all those things. Drawing on Clarice Lispector’s novel Água Viva, trans activist Luana Muniz narrates meditations on transness and the city of Rio as spaces of pure potential and fluidity, constantly creating themselves anew, over sumptuous images of Carnival costumes, dramatic fireworks, kids dancing in the street, underground queer parties, protests and Rio’s iconic landscape of beaches,

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Review: ‘The Heat’

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The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution (Canada, 75 min.) Dir. Maya Gallus Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere – Opening Night)   There’s a bad meme called ‘Get back in the kitchen!’ that social media users (male ones) use to keep women in their place. The “joke” is gendered and draws upon outdated roles in which women cook for their breadwinner husbands. The line is a symptom of the culture of toxic masculinity that’s finally seeing a reckoning. Kitchens are nevertheless traditionally domestic spaces in a complicated social history of prescribed gender roles. For many, the best memories of home often centre

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Review: ‘Over the Limit’

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Over the Limit (Poland, Germany, Finland, 74 minutes) Dir: Marta Prus Programme: World Showcase. (North American Premiere)   When asked about her personal goals, Russian rhythmic gymnast Margarita Mamun responds by saying, “We should push past our limits.” Throughout the film Mamun’s goal is met, over and over, as she practices and performs her routines amidst a grueling training schedule, family emergencies, injury, and the constant verbal berating by coaches. Over the Limit, in its repetition, can become dull. We watch Mamun dance, with grace, beauty, and strength that seem almost inhuman. And then we watch as her coaches tell

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