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Author: Leonardo Goi

Humanizing the Inhuman – on Paravel and Castaing-Taylor’s Caniba

Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor’s latest documentary Caniba opens with a warning: this film “does not seek to justify or legitimize” what it shows on screen. Redundant as it may seem, it is a fundamental reminder. Caniba is a 96-minute look at Issei Sagawa, a Japanese man who in 1981 murdered 25-year-old Dutch and fellow Sorbonne student Renée Hartevelt, and then proceeded to rape her, dismembering her body and eating it for two days, until he was finally busted by the French police while trying to dispose of the mutilated corpse in a public park’s lake. That the directors do not intend to...

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On Society’s Margins: Sean Baker’s The Florida Project

Films about children almost inevitably fall short of capturing a kid’s worldview. Partly because doing so requires being attuned to a kid’s psychology – and filming what it is like to think and act as a kid is no small feat – but also because so many moments that are central in a child’s life (the simple fact that kids get bored, for instance) must be sacrificed for the sake of three-act structures in which children are expected to conform to the linear, more fast-paced narratives of grown-ups. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project doesn’t work that way. It does...

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Dispatch from Venice – Inconvenient Truths

In a year we witnessed the coining of “alternative facts,” it is refreshing to attend a film festival showcasing features that prompt us instead to scrutinize the narratives we live in. Premiered at the 74th edition of the Venice Film Festival, Paul Schrader’s First Reformed, Nancy Buirski’s The Rape of Recy Taylor and Frederick Wiseman’s majestic ode to the New York Public Library, Ex Libris, share an ear for the need to defend reason and critical thinking, at a time when both seem to have lost their value. Think of Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest, swap Claude Laydu...

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A tragedy of two worlds – on Nelson Carlo De Los Santos’ Cocote

Locarno Festival’s Signs of Life sidebar showcases experimental features that push film language towards unexplored paths. Dominican director Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias’s Cocote fits the bill: a haunting tale of homecoming and religious strife, Cocote is a visually captivating nightmarish vision. De Los Santos Arias follows Alberto, a devout evangelical from the Dominican Republic who has left his home village and family in the country’s southwest coast and settled in Santo Domingo to work as a gardener in a wealthy villa. After his father is brutally assassinated by a local cop, Alberto returns to the village to...

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Hunched Bodies, Fragile Selves – Eliza Hittman’s Beach Rats

“I don’t really know what I like,” Frankie tells the gay men he spends his summer nights video chatting with. A Brooklyn boy in his teens, he lives a double life: acting tough with his bros by day, watching older men undress and masturbate on video by night. Four years after her immersive directorial feature debut, It Felt Like Love, writer-director Eliza Hittman returns with a haunting coming of age story, in which a teenager comes to terms with his sexuality. Premiered at Sundance, where Hittman received the Directing Award, Beach Rats was screened in Locarno as part of...

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