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“It Was a Daily Process of Making Sure She was Comfortable with our Presence”: Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll on Their Doc about Family and Caregiving, América

América

It’s no secret that dedication and responsibility are both required when caring for the elderly. In Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s feature documentary América, those two traits are leaned upon heavily, as three adult grandchildren look after their 93-year-old grandmother, who gives the film its title. By resisting sentimentality, the film finds a new kind of emotional heft, burrowing into the daily grind of the specifics of looking after someone who’s always conscious but not always present. At times observational and at times detailed in its tracking of legal battles (the three men’s father is currently imprisoned for not looking after América adequately), América is a portrait of a family who would not quit on their aged matriarch. Recently annointed…  Read more

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TIFF 2019, Days 7-9: Collective, To the Ends of the Earth, Ema

Collective

One benefit of an extended stay at TIFF (if you can swing it) is is allowing time for friends with trustworthy taste and far more patience to slog through non-obvious titles, then adjusting my endgame schedule accordingly for what they recommend. Hence the unexpected highlight of 29 TIFF screenings (24 features, four Wavelengths shorts programs and one revival screening of Pickpocket), Alexander Nanau’s verite doc Collective, about a scandal that had entirely passed me by. Opening title cards establish the fundamentals: a pyrotechnics accident at a 2015 concert led to a fire killing 26 on site, the death toll swelling to 64 as many of the hospitalized were infected, with subsequent anti-corruption protests leading to the Romanian prime minister’s resignation. Collective presents two…  Read more

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Mica Levi Composes for the Music-less Commandos of Monos

Monos

Transcribing a verbal interview can calcify its fluidity. Congealed to text, the spontaneity of a subject’s ongoing efforts to articulate their process is reduced, encouraging readers to mistake the record as definitive. Some interviewees ponder the permanence of their words anxiously and fear fumbling, saying what they don’t mean, or what they might not in a month or a year. But composer Mica Levi’s (Marjorie Prime, Jackie, Under The Skin) oral replies retain their suppleness on the page. Her understanding of her score for Alejandro Landes’ Monos, about a group of teenage commandos flummoxing their military responsibilities atop a mountain and, eventually, the throes of the Jungle of the Samaná River canyon, develops to this day. In that same elastic…  Read more

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“Opening Up a Space Where the Questioning of Power is Normalized Instead of Invisibilized”: Discussing the 2019 Camden International Festival

Lux Sine

“Who is this film made for, in what way is power present, how does the film understand its relationship to its subjects, and who benefits from the film being made?” That’s Samara Chadwick, Senior Programmer at the Camden International Film Festival, on this 2019 edition’s theme of “Story and Power.” But if you’re attending the festival, don’t look for this theme to be a didactic one, she says. “It’s less a series of affirmations and arrival points and more about the process of questioning — opening up a space where the questioning of power is normalized instead of invisibilized.” The Camden International Film Festival begins today and lasts a weekend, running through Sunday, September 15. And while an exploration of…  Read more

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Ava DuVernay, Sam Rockwell to Receive IFP Gotham Tribute Awards

Ava DuVernay (Photo: Dani Brubaker/Marie Claire)

Ava DuVernay will receive the Director Tribute and Sam Rockwell the Actor Tribute at the 2019 IFP Gotham Awards, IFP (Filmmaker‘s publisher) announced today. DuVernay, whose feature credits include Selma (2014), The 13th (2016) and A Wrinkle in Time (2018), will receive the award following the acclaim given to this year’s When They See Us. A four-part series released by Netflix in May, When They See Us dramatized the injustice faced by the so-called Central Park Five, who were wrongfully convicted of the rape of a jogger in Central Park. DuVernay also created and executive produces the series Queen Sugar, which employs an all-female group of directors, most of whom hail from the world of independent film. “Ava DuVernay is…  Read more

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“The Privileged Life Can Also Come at a Price”: Eva Mulvad on her TIFF-Premiering Love Child

Love Child

Having committed adultery and conceived a child out of wedlock, a couple is forced to choose between keeping secrets and family ties — or being true to love and residing in exile. Though that could be the plot of an old-fashioned romance novel (or modern-day soap opera), it’s actually the all-too-real situation the protagonists at the heart of Eva Mulvad’s documentary Love Child are forced to reckon with. Over the course of six years Mulvad (the Danish documentarian behind lighter dramatic fare such as the Grey Gardens-in-Portugal standout The Good Life, and more recently, A Cherry Tale and A Modern Man) follows Iranian lovebirds Leila and Sahand, and their young son, as they flee their country, await asylum in Turkey,…  Read more

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“I am Interested in Multiple Uses of Power and the Different Forms of Violence and Abuse That Take Place in Close Relationships”: Five Questions for Disco Director Jorunn Myklebust Syversen

Disco

Religious extremism and its cult-like symptoms are of intense interest to filmmaker Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, her two feature films, Hoggeren (The Three Feller) and Disco offering ample evidence of this. The two films portray cultural manipulation from the top down, with the hierarchies of religious institutions providing the confinements for their leading characters. Premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Disco links professional shortcomings to a lack of belief in the holy spirit. Disco tells the story of 19-year-old Mirjam, a world champion freestyle disco dancer whose stepfather serves as pastor of the local church, Freedom. Once Mirjam’s success in the field of disco dance begins to crumble, her family attributes her failings to a personal decrease in faith. Feeling…  Read more

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