Content Note: sexualized violence, abuse, pedophilia, old footage of kids in blackface and brownface
“Plot”: In the 80s there was a famous summer camp for kids in Epipo, Hungary. Led by charismatic teacher Pal Sipos, it was a camp filled with fantastic games that was almost magical for the kids who got to go there. But another part of the camp was abuse and humiliation – abuse that Sipos continued after the camp was shut down and he became a TV star. Now, decades later, the former camp kids are coming together again to try to work through their experiences and to reconcile their memories with the facts.
Return to Epipo is a highly personal and chilling look at the camp and the abuse that took place there, trying to answer the question how the camp could have been so great and so awful at the same time. It also looks at how what happened still affects the people who were there as kids. It’s insightful and also disturbing.
“Plot:” Ron lives with his family – mother, father, two brothers, one of them his twin – in Israel. His life is shaped by the fact that he has cerebral palsy, meaning that he is becoming less mobile at a steady pace, slowly graduating from crutches to a wheelchair. When his mother hears of a doctor in the USA who performs an operation that could restore some mobility and slow down the effect of the condition, she is dead set on getting Ron this treatment.
Once Upon a Boy shows an entire family trying to navigate life with a disabled family member and the difficulties that means. At times the film skirts a little too close to inspiration porn territory and some things may have deserved a little more critical interrogation, but it absolutely captures the parents’ struggle with the situation.
“Plot”: Tehran psychiatric hospital has both women’s and a men’s ward, but the men and women live mostly separate lives. One of the doctors would like to make it possible for a few of them to get married, to fulfill their romantic and sexual needs. But his plans are met with a lot of doubt by the other staff, and a lot of excitement by the patients.
The Marriage Project was a hard watch for me. It was so full with paternalistic condecension for the patients, I was cringing my way through the film. In the moments I could look past this, there were some very touching moments, but overall I just don’t think the film realized how harsh things were for the patients it showed.
“Plot”: Själö is an island in the Baltic Sea. It used to house a psychiatric facility for women, but that facility has long been disbanded and now a research group is studying biodiversity there. There are no more permanent inhabitants but the echo of Själö’s history and the people who used to live there is still ever present.
Själö is a slow meditation on the impact of history and how we remember things. It’s an interesting topic, but unfortunately, I didn’t manage to find my way into the film. I drifted more alongside it than in it.
“Plot”: A young girl, soon woman (Victória Maranho), tries to find her place in the world. But there is not much she can control – except what she eats or doesn’t eat.
Êxtase is a deeply personal and very in-depth look at the world through the eyes of an anorectic girl, somewhere between fiction and documentary and far from the usual clichés of just “thinking that she is too fat”.
“Plot”: Two prisons in Iran. One is a juvenile detention center for girls who murdered their husbands, fathers, or other male family members. The other houses some of their mothers and sometimes sisters who were a part or instigators of the murders.
Sunless Shadows looks at incarcerated girls and women in Iran, wondering about a society that leaves murder as the only option out of abuse and how families are tangled up in love despite and because of everything.
Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia and transmisia, sexualized violence
Plot: Iris (Sofia Cabrera) spends her time playing basketball and hanging out with her cousins Darío (Mauricio Vila) and Ale (Luis Molina). When she sees Renata (Ana Carolina Garcia) in the neighborhood, she is immediately intrigued. She tries to find out more about Renata until Renata notices her and asks for her number. But there are many rumors going around about Renata and Iris is not sure about how to proceed.
Las Mil y Una left too many open questions for me to be really satisfying, I’m afraid. There were some very interesting things here, but everything remained much too vague.
“Plot”: Ganna and her four children live in the Ukraine, in the middle of the war zone. They are working on a small film together that is supposed to capture the lives of the people around them. And it is supposed to help the oldest daughter, Myroslava, to get into film school – she wants to become a cinematographer. But capturing what it is like to live in a war zone while still living in a war zone is not easily done.
The Earth Is Blue as an Orange is a beautiful documentary about growing up in a war zone, about creating art there, but above all about family.
“Plot”: Robin is an ex-convict who found his passion running an amateur soccer club in Vienna. His team is very diverse, mostly made up of migrants from various countries. Bringing them together isn’t always easy and in addition to the usual difficulties of forming a team of rather unruly men, Robin and his team are confronted over and over again with racism in many ways during their games.
Robin’s Hood is not so much a movie about soccer (which is a good thing for me), but about racism and the question of whether it is possible to keep a team together under these circumstances – that is, under constant attack.