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RUSH TO SEE…
Carla Simón’s debut Summer 1993 has a lot to say about the way children process grief. Extracting some of the most realistic child acting I’ve ever seen from children as young as six, Simón proves to be a master of her craft. Her film is plotless, but every scene has purpose. The gutwrenching moments are gentle and unexpected rather than blindingly obvious, as we watch 6-year-old Frida process the death of her parents over one summer. Simón observes Frida for as long as is necessary, and the film ends the second everything that needs to be said has been said. That kind of confidence in a first time filmmaker is extraordinary.
TRY TO SEE…
Princess Cyd is a drifting film, but an amiable one at that. Stephen Cone’s direction attempts to be unfussy, although some of the flourishes he allows himself get in the way of the drama. Still, Cone has a strong understanding of his characters and their relationships ― the standout being Rebecca Spence as the successful writer aunt of teenager Cyd (Jessie Pinnick).
Makala‘s opening minutes are beautiful. Wordlessly, we follow Makala, a worker in the Congo going about his grinding daily routine. In the opening scene, he chops down a tree with the camera as a drifting observer. The soundscape director Emmanuel Gras captures is soothing, creating a poetic viewing experience. However, the problems emerge as the film goes on like this: it becomes clear that the documentary’s conceit ― to not include interviews or many spoken words by the subject at all ― is by nature othering. Makala is reduced to an object rather than a person.