By Roger Costa
SEM DEUS SEM DEMONIO (NO KINGS)
Director Emilia Mello gets total access to a unique Caiçara community, a blend of indigenous descendants, Europeans and escaped African slaves, humble people living on an island where fishing and agriculture are the only way of surviving. Deeply emphatic, immersive and poignant, Mello follows the routine of some of these people, learning of their abilities, talents, perspectives and philosophies on life. An ultra hyper and bossy girl exposing her dreams and evident loneliness despite living with her enormous family, while fiercely hunting crabs by the ocean, and engaging in risky, adventurous boyish practices; a fisherman meditating on his failures, goals and ideals on God, the battle between good and evil, the rush of our capitalist modern times, and his complicated (though passionate) relationship to his wife- these two protagonists are among the admirably honest human beings captured and depicted by Mello’s precious, patient and contemplative lenses, while she composes a memorable celebration on preserving your origins and standing up for the right to belong. Delicate and timely, this is essential cinema. (Screens February 26th and March 3rd)
MARINHEIRO DAS MONTANHAS (MARINER OF THE MOUNTAINS)
Acclaimed director Karim Ainouz returns to the aesthetic of his beloved “I Travel Because I Have To, I come Back Because I Love You” to narrate his most personal and intimate project ever. A travelogue made in homage to his parents and family, the Brazilian director went to Algeria, to capture the traditions, culture, colors and shapes of the country where his family comes from, as well as to learn of his origins, while imagining and dramatizing the journey made by his parents. As he innocently and deeply observes the city and its people with a sense of awe, melancholy and magic realism, interviewing folks who possibly knew his predecessors, he gives life to the narrative, explaining his motives and emotions, while using personal photos, documents and archives to emphasize it. An official selection at Cannes, Ainouz composes an imaginative and efficient, relatable family story about the time when people dreamt of exploring the world for better days.
(Screens February 26th and 28th)
An impressionistic take on motherhood and feminine crimes of love, director Peter Kerekes’ Venice’s Best Screenplay Award-winning hybrid of doc and drama examines the effects of murder, punishment and separation on vulnerable women and innocent children. Slovakia’s Academy Award entry is one of the most heartbreaking films in recent memory to depict women’s hopelessness and maternal expectations. A powerfully engaging and sensitive collaboration between the director and the real-life prisoners playing themselves, the film notoriously brings awareness to one of humankind’s most cruel methods of punishment: the incarcerated pregnant women get to keep their children but, they live in a separated area since they are born, and they must leave when they turn 3 years-old. Constructed as a tragic deadpan comedy, it is a top-notch work of non-fiction that deserves to be among this year’s best discoveries.
(Screens February 24th and 28th)
(MoMA’s annual Festival for International Documentary, Doc Fortnight is celebrating its 21st edition with a fantastic lineup of experimental, inventive and daring new works in non-fiction film. Running February 23rd thru March 10th it will feature in-person screenings with the participation of some filmmakers and available to stream at MoMA’s Virtual Platform. Go to www.moma.org/calendar/film for details.)