Alysia Urrutia

Dark River (Clio Barnard, UK) — Platform

By Alysia Urrutia / September 14, 2017

By Alysia Urrutia The places you’ve lived are like the people you’ve loved: you can leave them all you want but they’ll never be gone. The inextricability of space and emotion, the way we infuse familiar places with the ghosts of our memories, is at the core of Dark River, a grim tale that explores…

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Soldiers. Story from Ferentari (Ivana Mladenovic, Romania/Serbia/Belgium) — Discovery

By Alysia Urrutia / September 12, 2017

By Alysia Urrutia While on the surface Soldiers from Ferentari would appear to be wildly rugged in every possible sense—stark cinematography, bleak setting, characters frayed by age and rough around the edges—Ivana Mladeovic’s film heroically manages to infuse its ruinous onscreen world with the romantic possibility of freedom, the kind that only having spent half…

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What Will People Say (Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden) — Platform

By Alysia Urrutia / September 7, 2017

By Alysia Urrutia Placing a new cultural spin on the well-worn story of a young girl whose sexual blossoming comes into conflict with family values, What Will People Say is both provocative and predictable, topical but trite. The host of repercussions visited upon Nisha (Maria Mozhdah) for having imprudently succumbed to ostensibly sinful urges is…

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Gutland (Govinda Van Maele, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium) — Discovery

By Alysia Urrutia / September 3, 2017

By Alysia Urrutia To have lost something is for something familiar to have disappeared, but to be lost is to be surrounded by the unknown—in other words, to have the unfamiliar appear. Jens Fauser (Frederick Lau) is lost in both senses of the word, shedding layers of his former self just as readily as he…

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Blair Witch (Adam Wingard, US) — Midnight Madness

By Alysia Urrutia / September 14, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia While it’s ostensibly a bold gesture to reboot the pre-viral benchmark of independent cinema, Adam Wingard’s millennial sequel Blair Witch lacks what its cunning predecessor had in spades: the element of surprise, both in its premise and its grassroots promotional method. You have to hand it to Wingard and his distributor for…

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A Death in the Gunj (Konkona Sensharma, India) — Special Presentations

By Alysia Urrutia / September 8, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia Konkona Sensharma’s first stab at directing after a long and prolific acting career proves her to be a well-intentioned emerging filmmaker, though the impact of the film itself is somewhat dulled by its predictability and lack of focus. Often reminiscent of Asghar Farhadi’s About Elly (2009), A Death in the Gunj is…

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All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone (Fred Peabody, Canada) — TIFF Docs

By Alysia Urrutia / September 6, 2016

  By Alysia Urrutia Taking its title from legendary independent journalist I.F. Stone’s guiding maxim, Fred Peabody’s All Governments Lie expands its critical scope by tracking down other deceptive public institutions whose credibility also deserves debunking, mainly corporate organizations and the mass media. Despite money and power being common denominators among the suspected liars, the…

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Mali Blues (Lutz Gregor, Germany) — TIFF Docs

By Alysia Urrutia / September 5, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia You might remember her minor but memorable performance in the Oscar-nominated Timbuktu (2014), but in Lutz Gregor’s Mali Blues singer Fatoumata Diawara’s electrifying pizzazz rightfully earns her the spotlight. Gregor documents Fatou’s journey of self-discovery on a concert tour of her native land, a country whose occupation by radical Islamists separated its…

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Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France) — Masters

By Alysia Urrutia / September 4, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia Hailing from the same breed of striking experimentation that initially garnered Italian director Gianfranco Rosi international acclaim, this riveting new essay on the European migration crisis became the first documentary ever to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival. Steeped in verité yet still novel in its approach, Fire at…

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Green White Green (Abba Makama, Nigeria) — City to City

By Alysia Urrutia / September 3, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia Despite its patently patriotic title, Green White Green is surprisingly uncertain about what it means to be Nigerian. Beneath an almost prankish, David Attenborough-esque voiceover that sets up the sociopolitical backdrop, the film explores the potential of a new generation of young visionaries—imagine American Graffiti (1973) reworked as an articulation of contemporary Nigerian culture.…

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Close Relations (Vitaly Mansky, Latvia/Germany/ Estonia/ Ukraine) — TIFF Docs

By Alysia Urrutia / September 3, 2016

By Alysia Urrutia Adding to the robust shelf of documentaries that have scavenged Ukrainian soil in the wake of the Euro-Maidan Revolution, Vitaly Mansky’s Close Relations takes a sharp turn away from a propagandist approach and steers into the up-close-and-personal framework of a home movie. Its intimate and conversational nature, along with Mansky’s bold decision…

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