TIFF17 REVIEW: Skyggenes Dal [Valley of Shadows] [2017]

“What we don’t understand scares us” Six year-old Aslak (Adam Ekeli) lives a quiet life with his single mother Astrid (Kathrine Fagerland) in a rural town adjacent to farmland and a mountaintop forest. He’s too young to understand all that’s happening around him—especially considering he’s generally told to keep away from the adults when they’re […]

REVIEW: De sidste mænd i Aleppo [Last Men in Aleppo] [2017]

“If I leave, it will be to the cemetery” It’s a shame that those who need to watch Last Men in Aleppo are those who won’t. I’m talking the brainwashed masses quick to call a liberal media “fake news” while they help facilitate legitimate fake news fabricated by enemy regimes hoping to plant dissent. They […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Du forsvinder [You Disappear] [2017]

“We just want to make sure you’re well enough” What if it was an established fact that free will as a concept was dictated by our body’s chemistry? Every decision we think we’re making is really made implicitly by our organs—more correctly, they are dictating to our brains what it is we want. That shopping […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Los Burritos [Cocaine Prison] [2017]

“If it doesn’t happen, what can I do?” If you’ve ever watched season three of “Prison Break” and wondered what was going on with Sona’s weird open air slum-like community barely watched by guards, know that the truth isn’t very far off. Just look at Bolivia’s San Sebastian Prison in Cochabamba, a small concrete establishment […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Black Kite [2017]

“For a drop of water I’ll tell you my whole story” With the world caught in a time and place allowing it to quickly judge so much on so little, tiny human stories like Black Kite prove to be their most potent. Ask Americans about the Taliban and some will probably say the term is […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Verdwijnen [Disappearance] [2017]

“Until we all drown in it” Vignettes depicting a young girl playing the piano on a darkened concert stage come and go throughout Boudewijn Koole‘s Verdwijnen [Disappearance]. They provide bookends to the whole, his film seemingly a visual representation of the melody—both as this single chapter in Roos’ (Rifka Lodeizen) life and its entire duration […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Hva vil folk si [What Will People Say] [2017]

“You haven’t done anything wrong” The Toronto International Film Festival synopsis calls Iram Haq‘s latest film Hva vil folk si [What Will People Say] an “empathetic story of family, community, and culture.” I would call it straight up social horror made scarier when you discover that it was partly inspired by the artist’s own life. […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: Beyond Words [2017]

“A change of perspective from high to low normally brings new discoveries” An African man—a hopeful immigrant—says something very interesting to his prospective lawyer Michael (Jakub Gierszal) at the start of Urszula Antoniak‘s Beyond Words. When asked if he has a better excuse for finding refuge in Germany than the simple desire to choose his […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Tiere [Animals] [2017]

“Animals don’t kill themselves” Discovering that screenwriter Jörg Kalt committed suicide before bringing his script Tiere [Animals] to life adds a lot of context to how one deciphers Greg Zglinski‘s film. The director had read it the year before Kalt’s death, lauding it while on a Zurich Film Foundation committee in the hopes of helping […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: 帝一の國 [Teiichi no kuni] [Teiichi: Battle of Supreme High] [2017]

“Could any man dream for more?” We are defined by moments, decisions made by us or for us by another. For Teiichi Akaba (Masaki Suda) it was always the choice between love of the piano (his mother’s passion) and a desire to please his father (Kôtarô Yoshida‘s Josuke Akaba) by following a path towards political […]

FANTASIA17 REVIEW: Junk Head [2017]

“And you call yourself God” After finding acclaim with stop-motion animated short Junk Head 1 in 2014, writer/director/animator Takahide Hori decided to expand its science fiction-infused world to feature length. The result is a two-hour adventure following one man’s descent through a subterranean infrastructure built by clones entitled simply Junk Head. It takes place centuries […]