Totul nu va fi bine [Everything Will Not Be Fine] (2020)

Totul nu va fi bine
Director: Helena Maksyom, Adrian Pirvu
Writer: Helena Maksyom, Adrian Pirvu
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2021

“Plot”:
Just before Adrian Pirvu was born, his mother traveled from Romania to Ukraine on a business trip. Unfortunately that was just when the nuclear accident in Chernobyl struck, exposing both his mother and Adrian to radiation. As a result, Adrian almost lost his eyesight entirely. Doctors were able to save one eye, though. Now an adult, Adrian starts looking for people who are suffering similarly from long-term effects of the disaster. He finds Ukranian Helena Maksyom whose spine causes her problems and chronic pain. As they work on the documentary together, tracing Chernobyl’s lasting effects, the two fall in love.

Totul nu va fi bine is an usual film, and a surprisingly personal one. While it is a bit of a pity that the actual Chernobyl disaster takes a backseat to the relationship of the two filmmakers, there is something precious about the resulting film.

The film poster showing the top of a high-rise with two people walking along it, but the image is turned 90 degrees. There is also a smaller image of Helena Maksyom and Adrian Pirvu cuddled together.
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Eva-Maria (2021)

Eva-Maria
Director: Lukas Ladner
Writer: Lukas Ladner
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 10.12.2021

Content Note: (critical treatment of) ableism

“Plot”:
Eva-Maria is spastic and so has been using a wheelchair for pretty much all of her life. Now she is in her 30s, works as an assistant, and she would like to have a child. That she doesn’t have a partner doesn’t keep her from seeking fertility treatment and attempting to have a child on her own. That’s easier said than done, though.

Eva-Maria is a nice documentary that follows its protagonist over quite a long time, making it a very personal portrait that could have touched on systemic issues a little more. But either way, it shows us what it can mean to be a disabled parent, and that is something we need to see more of, I think.

The film poster showing a drawing of a pregnant woman in an electric wheel chair.
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Shadow Game (2021)

Shadow Game
Director: Eefje Blankevoort, Els van Driel
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 9.12.2021

“Plot”:
Every year, or rather every day, more refugees attempt to get to Europe for a bit of safety and hope for a future. Among them are a lot of teenage boys, who have crafted a “game” out of their attempts to cross various borders within Europe, hoping to finally get to the countries where they can stay.

Shadow Game follows a handful of teenage boys from the Middle East and Africa who are on their ways into Europe, or stranded along the way, painting a harrowing picture of the inhumane and shameful policies and practices of the European countries. It’s not easy to take, but even more important for it.

The film poster showing a teenage boy looking down at the camera, above him just blue sky.
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Fly So Far (2021)

Fly So Far
Director: Celina Escher
Writer: Celina Escher
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 9.12.2021

Content Note: abortion, miscarriage

“Plot”:
Teodora Vásquez had a miscarriage under the most dramatic circumstance, shortly before the baby was due to be born. Since she lives in El Salvador with some of the strictest abortion laws in the world, she faced murder charges next and was sentenced to decades in prison. There she connected with other women imprisoned for the same “crime” of losing a child, and together they started fighting for a change.

Fly So Far is an emphatic call to action and solidarity in the feminist fight. I can very much recommend it.

The film poster showing Teodora Vásquez in front of some microphones. Behind her we can see a barbwire fence.
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Coded Bias (2020)

Coded Bias
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Writer: Shalini Kantayya
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

Content Note: (critical treatment of) racism

“Plot”:
When MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini started working with facial recognition software for a class, she didn’t expect to discover that the AI is absolutely biased. She dug into the matter, uncovering more and more problems. Meanwhile facial recognition is used more all the time, for surveillance and police work, regardless of the problems that still aren’t solved.

Coded Bias takes on a very timely topic, considering the racist and also sexist bias in apparently neutral software and algorithms and its implications for police work, amont other things. It’s interesting, well-argued and so well-structured that time flies by and yet you never feel overwhelmed by the topic. It was the perfect choice of final film for the this human world Film Festival.

The film poster showing a white mask in front of a black background. Around the eyes you can see that a Black person is wearing the mask.
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Glory to the Queen (2020)

Glory to the Queen
Director: Tatia Skhirtladze, Anna Khazaradze
Writer: Ina Ivanceanu, Tatia Skhirtladze
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Nona Gaprindashvili, Maia Chiburdanidze, Nana Alexandria and Nana Ioseliani are all world-class Georgian chess players. Their careers changed chess forever, and all four of them are still active teaching and playing chess. But even outside of that, they became feminist icons in Georgia and beyond.

Glory to the Queen tells the story of four very different women who happened to have the same knack for chess. Combining historical footage and current images, it tries to show what their achievements in chess meant to them, to the world, to women, especially the women of Georgia. Unfortunately it isn’t always as clear in its storytelling as it should have been.

The film poster showing drawings of the four women walking over a chess board.
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La casa dell’amore [The House of Love] (2020)

La casa dell’amore
Director: Luca Ferri
Writer: Luca Ferri
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 13.12.2020

“Plot”:
Bianca Dolce Miele is a trans sex worker in Milan. She works at home and the film shares her space and her work for a while.

I had issues with La casa dell’amore. It seems more interested in undressing Bianca and showing her at work than giving us an idea of her as a person.

The film poster showing Bianca half-naked, sitting on a whie cube, wearing nothing but a white skirt and white furry boots. A black cat's but is also in the picture in the corner.
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Bring Down the Walls (2020)

Bring Down the Walls
Director: Phil Collins
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 12.12.2020

Plot:
Right in Manhattan, there is an old firestation that has been transformed into a communal center. During the day, it is an educational space, offering political workshops and talks. During the night, it becomes a club playing house music. The thing that unites those halves is the prison-industrial complex in the USA as the center gives space to former inmates to share their experiences, to activists to campaign for prison abolishment and traces the way house music was developed by Black and Latinx communities as a form of liberation.

Bring Down the Walls takes a look at the strength that lies in community, activism and music, especially when they come together. It is an unusual perspective on the prison-industrial complex, but a welcome one.

The film poster showing the back of a Black head with short hair.
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Meu Nome é Bagdá [My Name Is Baghdad] (2020)

Meu Nome é Bagdá
Director: Caru Alves de Souza
Writer: Caru Alves de Souza, Josefina Trotta
Cast: Grace Orsato, Karina Buhr, Marie Maymone, Helena Luz, Gilda Nomacce, Paulette Pink, Emílio Serrano, William Costa, João Paulo Bienermann, Nick Batista
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 12.12.2020

Content Note: sexualized violence, police brutality

Plot:
Baghdad (Grace Orsato) cruises the streets of Sao Paulo with her skateboarding crew. When she isn’t out and about she hangs with her single mother (Karina Buhr) and little sister (Marie Maymone), and her mothers friends. Baghdad is little interested in school or anything but improving her skating abilities. But her group of friends is mostly boys, except for her and Vanessa (Nick Batista). Until they meet another group of female skaters.

My Name Is Baghdad is a wonderful film that takes a sharp look at how a girl really can’t ever be one of the boys – but she can be lucky to be one of the girls. It’s sweet and touching and has great energy.

The film poster showing Bagdá (Grace Orsato) hugging her skateboard.
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Las ranas [The Frogs] (2020)

Las ranas
Director: Edgardo Castro
Writer: Edgardo Castro
Cast: Barbara Elisabeth Stanganelli, Nahuel Cabral, Gabriela Illarregui, María Eugenia Stillo
Part of: this human world Film Festival
Seen on: 12.12.2020

Plot:
Barbara (Barbara Elisabeth Stanganelli) is one of the women called Las ranas – the frogs. That means she visits her boyfriend (Nahuel Cabral) in prison as much as she can. The prison is far and the visits are a strenuous addition to her everyday struggle to raise enough funds just to live. But she unfailingly goes, bringing food and whatever else is allowed and even what isn’t. Sometimes she also brings their daughter.

Las ranas is a fiction film that feels very much like a documentary. That has advantages but also disadvantages, and here and there I was wishing it would stick more to narrative conventions for fiction.

The film poster in simple grass green with a black frog on it.
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