Visits to cinema showcases around the world
Verhoeven wants us to know who the real perverse parties are here, and he avoids charges of blasphemy in Benedetta by mining the history of the Catholic Church in rigorous, drippy excess. Also reviewed: Anais in Love, Bergman Island, Small Body, Three Floors.
The curators ask in the program notes, Can remembrance fix a broken world? At the core of this inquiry into the world, and the status of the human within its historical, sociopolitical, technological, and ecological parameters, lies the emphasis on feeling.
There was a fair amount of expectation for this year’s Midnight selections to contain the next iteration of meaningful, shocking, or gossip-inspiring titles that could also be talked about as layered, complex examinations of real-world issues.
In their ambivalence and open-endedness, these films paradoxically brought me closer to a kind of emotional release than any other films in the festival, managing to capture our current state of uninterrupted dread and malaise in a way that feels comfortingly familiar.
This year there wasn’t as much awkwardness in the form of glitchy, poorly synced Zoom interviews, as one might have expected, though the same can’t be said for the sometimes verbose, overly grave ways that some filmmakers talked about their projects.
While I tend to chafe at categorizing directors based on gender, each of these films is richer as a result of their lived experience as women, and the particular struggle of searching for agency in a world that limits it.
As a viewer and participant, I was increasingly aware that the objective of the festival was to be a space in which we questioned and looked closely at the historical work and power imbalances that have long existed within the documentary form.
Eloy Enciso’s Endless Night, Maya Da-Rin’s The Fever,Affonso Uchôa’s Seven Years in May, Ben Rivers and Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Krabi, 2562, James N. Kienitz Wilkins’s This Action Lies, Annie MacDonell’s Book of Hours, Sergei Loznitsa’s State Funeral, and more
Filmmakers are actively pushing up against what it means to make a documentary at all, and the True/False Film Festival caters to and nurtures that objective. I am especially thankful to True/False for exposing me to new possibilities for Black cinema.