BIFF19 REVIEW: A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem [2019]

It is the hardest thing to walk away from. Everything in this world comes down to control and that’s what makes the work being done by minority classes (gender, race, sexuality, religion, etc.) so important today. When those in power look the same (white, male, old), there’s little room to want to look outside their sphere of influence and recognize their impact upon anyone else but themselves. That’s where the manipulations come in and why they’ve become as easy to perform as breathing. And it all compounds in the case…

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NYFF19 REVIEW: Born to Be [2020]

We’re going to make her whole. How does a self-taught upright bass player who dropped out of Julliard to pursue his parents’ dream of medical school become a bona fide superhero? Easy. He raised his hand. Dr. Jess Ting may have graduated at the top of his class and found success as a New York City plastic surgeon, but none of that compares to the courage and humanity shown when agreeing to lead the newly-formed Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital. The position was created in…

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REVIEW: Memory: The Origins of Alien [2019]

It lives in our dreams. Here’s the thing you should know up-front: Alexandre O. Philippe‘s Memory: The Origins of Alien doesn’t break new ground. No crazy revelations unknown before the documentary began production are discovered. Instead we get first-hand accounts of the struggles to get Alien made, the communal artistic synergy that ultimately helped propel it (the majority of talking head interviews), what it was like to be on-set as an actor (Tom Skerritt and Veronica Cartwright are the only participants save archival comments from John Hurt), and how critics,…

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REVIEW: Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice [2019]

So I started looking for other things. Upon sitting down to Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman‘s documentary Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice, I had to ask myself why I knew her name. She’s obviously one of the biggest chart-hopping women to ever grace a stage and record music, but I couldn’t think of a single title to attribute to her in a way that correlated why I knew who she was without actually knowing who she was. Then “You’re No Good” started playing. Then came her cover of…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: This is Not a Movie [2019]

This is where the match was lit. The reason Yung Chang picked This is Not a Movie for the title of his documentary on renowned journalist Robert Fisk stems from his subject’s inspiration for pursuing that line of work. Fisk talks about watching Alfred Hitchcock‘s Foreign Correspondent as a boy and thinking its lead led a life of excitement that most people only ever dream about. So he pursued the career despite parents wishing for another direction (before their pride of having a son at The London Times kicked in)…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: I Am Not Alone [2019]

My spirit has survived. Despite the title of Garin Hovannisian‘s documentary on Armenia’s 2018 “velvet revolution” being I Am Not Alone, journalist/activist/Congressman Nikol Pashinyan was exactly that at the movement’s beginning. Word came down that former president Serzh Sargsyan was to be voted in as the nation’s latest Prime Minister—an unjust and demoralizing development considering he had used the last term of his presidency to change laws and ensure that new office would effectively keep him in controlling power. Because Pashinyan refused to simply let that happen without a fight,…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: The Australian Dream [2019]

We heard a howl. The story of AFL superstar and Australian of the Year-recipient Adam Goodes should resonate for Americans who’ve been following the crusade of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. From his minority background, stalwart fight against injustice, and the resulting sports-wide fan backlash—their similarities are endless. The people loved Goodes because he left everything on the field and checked every “gladiator” box as far as playing through debilitating injuries to carry a team on his back towards a championship. They loved him so much that they initially let…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Love Child [2019]

There’s no going back. The year “2012” doesn’t pop-up on-screen at the beginning of Eva Mulvad‘s documentary Love Child because it’s an era-specific story. No well-known international news headline is about to arrive as motivation for why Sahand and Leila fled Iran for the hope of sanctuary far, far away. The real reason for that date is perhaps even more heartbreaking when proven to be a simple case of timeline logistics. This is when the couple’s story starts and we’ll eventually see more demarcations as it continues forward. What they…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: Heimat ist ein Raum aus Zeit [Heimat is a Space in Time] [2019]

Beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror. How much of our ancestry is tied to the history of the places we call home? While some of us would probably answer “None,” we’d be wrong. Just because your family tree was lucky enough to exist on the periphery of major historical moments as bystanders doesn’t mean you haven’t been impacted by wars, tragedies, inventions, and art in ways that defined your choices and subsequently the choices of your children. Why did my grandfather immigrate to America from Lebanon (then part…

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TIFF19 REVIEW: My English Cousin [2019]

I am cooked to perfection. It’s been seventeen years since Fahed Mameri left Algeria to achieve a better life in England. Since then he has settled in Grimsby (a place with high unemployment and little infrastructure to sustain a healthy living), married an Englishwoman, and found two jobs with which to earn barely enough money to pay the rent. Because his dream of prosperity hasn’t quite worked out, nostalgia for family and the more conservative lifestyle of their African nation instills a desire within to return. His mother is growing…

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REVIEW: Maiden [2019]

The ocean is always trying to kill you. There’s no better example of the patriarchy poisoning the word “feminism” than a woman explaining that she rejects the word before than saying she fights for a world where women can accomplish everything a man can instead … in other words: feminism. Despite what men want you to think, the word advocates for women’s rights on the basis of equality between sexes. It’s not about women gaining extra rights—men simply manipulate the conversation this way to play the victim while consciously pretending…

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