Miguel A. Reina

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Sevilla
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Shahid

[Visions du Réel '24] This imaginative film uses creativity in staging to trace a personal narrative, introducing complex ideas within a meta-narrative that reflects on identity, but also questions itself regarding the different levels of privilege within the Iranian community in abroad. Constantly alive, changing the staging from theatrical performance to musical, with some touches of comedy, the film questions itself and its own reason for being. But despite this mix between the fictional story and the reflective essay, it maintains a coherence as a cinematographic narrative, it never feels disjointed or too ambitious, and it also introduces a twist in the script that ends up transforming the point of view of the director-protagonist and the perspective of the rest of the characters. So it becomes one of the most original proposals we have seen this year.

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My Stolen Planet

[Visions du Réel '24] In this powerful chronicle about the constant resistance of women in Iran, director Farahnaz Sharifi remembers her childhood divided into two planets, the one outside with the impositions of the Khomeini regime and the one inside her home, represented by the image of her herself at the age of seven with the hijab in her hand: "My planet was full of dancing, even with Khomeini on the wall," she comments as the narrator of her own story. The dance, prohibited in Iran, becomes one of those daily acts of resistance against the culture of hate imposed in the country. It is an exciting and visceral film at times, which vindicates filming as an act of protest, especially when the popularity of cell phones made it possible to "record the story that they did not want to be recorded." And in this powerful account, Farahnaz Sharifi uses personal experience as a tool of resistance that reflects the collective experiences of Iranian women.

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Boat Story

The Williams brothers have achieved a remarkable narrative game that could seem to have too many elements in the air but that end up connecting with efficiency, wit and a good sense of humor. More playful than "The Tourist" (2022-), it is more interested in the way the story is told than in the plot itself, which can become too stagnant as it develops. But it always manages to maintain the surprise by using the parody of different narrative styles in each episode, and questioning the outcome through possibly surreptitious references to the criticism they have received for certain endings.

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The Landscape and the Fury

[Visions du Réel '24] The camera generally maintains its distance, with a sense of rhythm that is marked by nature itself, the environment that becomes the absolute protagonist and therefore the one that sustains a gaze that does not rush. Getting used to the rhythm of a film that is structured through the seasons of the year therefore requires some commitment on the part of the viewer, but once we accept the cadence of the film we also manage to surround ourselves with a certain atmosphere that is also marked by the subtle sound creation by Alva Noto and the often nocturnal photography of Stefan Sick. The director uses a border space to reflect the contrasts between the past and the present, between those who have a home and those who are looking for a home, forming a human landscape wrapped in the pacing of the natural landscape.

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Kamay

[Visions du Réel '24] The film captures in many ways the pain of a family over the suicide of their daughter, motivated by humiliation and harassment at Kabul University, surrounding her sister Freshta from that majestic surrounding of the mountains, using silence and shots of details that provide a heavy and quiet atmosphere, and alternating the spaciousness of the exterior with close-ups of the faces inside the house. Through this specific story, however, the director knows how to show the consequences of constant pressure on the Hazara population, what he calls "a slow genocide" in which the objective is to erase its traces. Despite its exploration of pain and loss, it is nevertheless a film that conveys the hope of resilience and the strength of dignity.

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Franklin

[tv+] Apple tries to be HBO without succeeding, although it aligns itself with solvent professionals from the old HBO such as Timothy Van Patten and Kirk Ellis. This is one of those productions with great appearances but little depth, with negotiations within the French court dragged on unnecessarily. And so little confidence in the main plot (despite the fact that Michael Douglas performs a very funny libertine Franklin), that they create a fictional subplot about his grandson whose narrative arc is absurd and boring, but which ends up taking over the series.

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The Song of Others
A Shepherd
Fragments of Ice

[Visions du Réel '24] For the director's father, an ice skater, leaving the Soviet Union meant a liberation that he wanted to record through home videos that the director uses to tell the recent history of Ukraine wrapped in a family story that takes place between 1986 and 1994. This seemingly unattainable dream of embracing the market economy ends up permeating much of Mykhail's recordings abroad, but they also reflect a certain disbelief towards the possibility of the Soviet Union dissolving. The construction of this collective memory through her personal perspective manages to subtly introduce us to a state of mind that is transmitted in family celebrations. Maria Stoianova's voice-over directs us through her own memories, sometimes with a density between what we hear and what we see, constantly fighting to maintain the interest of the viewer, too overwhelmed by the successive collection of information. With some difficulties in emotionally focusing this journey through a family history in a complicated sociopolitical context, the film uses memory to define the need to understand itself as a nation before trying to understand its environment.

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Quiet on Set: The Dark Side of Kids TV

[HBO Max] A documentary that offers disturbing content that is shown in the most conventional way possible, constantly using archive images to underline the statements of the interviewees. But the story of protagonists whose career as child television stars has caused psychological traumas that remain in their adulthood is terrifying, and that is the strength of the series. With an added episode that is not really a continuation but a boring interview show, the series says a lot about the silent complicity of an entertainment industry populated by predators.

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Balomania
Glass, My Unfulfilled Life

[Visions du Réel '24] An entertaining exercise in autofiction in which the director describes a dream that has become a way of life, but which also poses an intelligent reflection on maturity and trying to recover our own space through decisions that can seem unusual. The film is narrated by the director himself as if it were a kind of story, referring to himself in the third person, which offers some touches of irony and sense of humor that make the story closer. Certainly, at times the documentary conveys the feeling that everything is more coincidental than it surely has been, but it is a film as simple as it is charming, which transmits that positive message about trying to achieve one's dreams despite the obstacles or, as his father tells him in one of their many telephone conversations: "If you really believe in it, you have to overcome all adversity."

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Israelism

[CPH:DOX '24] At one point in the documentary, Simone Zimmerman states that "when many American politicians are asked about anti-Semitism, they express support for Israel. Israel is currently replacing what it means to be Jewish. These people have decided that support for Israel is more important than defending Judaism." Through the experience of two young Jews, the film describes the construction of a Zionist indoctrination that uses educational institutions such as North American universities to spread a unilateral vision closed to debate. But when raising this question, it ends up falling into a one-dimensional point of view, when it refers to historical facts, or when some interviews with people like Abe Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League until 2015, seem to reflect that he did not really know the nature of the documentary, offering general answers easily countered. Perhaps it is not the most appropriate thing for a film that denounces the one-way reporting of the Jewish community in the United States to avoid establishing a real debate with interviewees who also offer arguments from the other point of view.

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Occupied City
Can't Feel Nothing

[CPH:DOX '24] Director David Borenstein, who describes himself a screen zombie, confesses incapable of feeling anything and begins a journey around the world searching for emotions. But Danish therapist Morten Fenger, who studies the pathology of the internet and digitalization, says that "we have created an artificial world that has artificial feelings that make us feel empty." Fear, anger, joy, desire... are some of the emotions that the film explores. Although it does not delve too deeply into the characters, some of them convey a feeling of loneliness and desperation. Although it doesn't delve too deeply into the characters, some of them convey a feeling of loneliness and desperation. At times it seems to dwell too much on the anecdotal nature of the actions of its protagonists, as a simple compilation of oddities, but the film describes a society voluntarily subjected to emotional manipulation, finding on the Internet the perfect tool to carry out this control in a way anonymous. And although it uses a light tone that introduces humorous elements, it paints a somewhat discouraging picture of how we have subjected ourselves to the constant induction of our emotions.

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Democracy Noir

[CPH:DOX '24] Starting from a chance meeting a decade ago in Budapest's Freedom Square, American director Connie Field has approached the political reality of Hungary, but with an eye on her own country, posing the film as a projection of the ability of populist rulers to modify democratic tools in their favor. Through three individual stories starring women activists, journalists and politicians who denounce the manipulations of the Hungarian government, the contradictory situation that occurs due to the fact that a country subjected to an autocracy is not only part of the European Union but that the distribution of economic funds from this community has become the main resource that it has used to develop its populist politics. It is an urgent documentary about a political paradox within Europe: how the European Union has contributed to the development of authoritarianism in a country like Hungary.

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Sanctuary: A Witch's Tale

A series that mixes witchcraft with a community that lives together in a more or less trusting way until an event occurs that will change personal relationships. In a way, the supernatural serves to reinforce the human drama, which seems to be what is really important. But it fails to establish a convincing relationship because the script always tries to maintain the mystery through twists that are too forced. As if the main dramatic impulse of the series was not strong enough to sustain a story that falls into superficial portrayal.

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Found

A mediocre procedural with an irritating protagonist who never quite manages to justify his decisions. It starts from an interesting premise that becomes absurd when it turns the protagonist's traumatic past into an unlikely consultant to solve kidnapping cases that the police of course cannot solve. What other series like "Prodigal son" (2019-2021) resolve with more credibility, here is a script resource that is lost due to writing that is too lazy and weak, with one-dimensional and predictable characters. In the procedural aspect, it is as bad as the latest proposals are.

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While the Men are Away

[Red Arrow] Consciously adopts a contemporary look, composing a multiracial, queer and feminine space in front of a patriarchal, heterosexual, Christian and white society. Describing itself as "grossly historically inaccurate", it is a satirical and somewhat quirky comedy about the women left behind in Australia while the men left to fight during World War 2. It begins with a comic tone that gradually takes a darker path, reflecting the ambivalent condition of a series that maintains the balance between satirical humor and reflective drama.

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As The Tide Comes In
Johatsu - Into Thin Air

[CPH:DOX '24] With his latest documentary, the director approaches the people who have disappeared of their own free will in Japan, burdened by debt or persecuted by the yakuza, although the film is more focused on the human side than on trying to explain this reality. Andreas Hartmann's direction and cinematography reinforce the feeling of loneliness and isolation by showing shots of lonely places, sometimes reflecting some off-screen encounters, while the camera recreates quiet but desolate landscapes. The night scenes contribute to giving a certain film noir tone, which sometimes reinforces a visual approach to the documentary that tends to be too aesthetic. But the testimonies of these people who have renounced their own families reflect a feeling of loneliness and melancholy, revealing a reality that has specifically Japanese characteristics. The renunciation of one's identity underlines the alienation of a society focused on work and economic performance.

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Mina and the Radio Bandits

[CPH:DOX '24] Through the RøverRadio (Radio Bandit) project that broadcasts from five Norwegian prisons, the film takes as reference the work of journalist Mina Hadjian and her relationship with some of the prisoners who are part of the project. The result is a deeply human story that transmits moments of emotional ties between people who initially don't have many points in common. The radio project from prison exposes some realities that are not usually talked about, but it also ends up being an experience in which the limits between professional stance and personal involvement are blurred. Which also contributes to the documentary finding the appropriate balance point in the representation of the difficulties of human beings in getting out of the oppressive circles of crime, sometimes trapped at a crossroads that ends in tragedy.

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G – 21 Scenes from Gottsunda
Intercepted

[CPH:DOX '24] There is an expressive use of sound as an element that transcends images, which places us in the horror before it is shown. The images show the destruction, the houses in ruins and sometimes hastily abandoned, with food still on the table; that is, the Ukrainian point of view. What we hear are conversations intercepted by the Ukrainian secret services of telephone calls made between Russian soldiers and their families during 2022, in which contempt and Nazi-like expressions towards Ukrainians predominate, but also some fissures in the patriotic speeches of the soldiers. The director reflects the consequences of the bombings, but she also takes care of those affected, the families waiting for the arrival of the food distribution. She even shows Russian prisoners in a decision that directly contravenes the Geneva Convention, a violation of international humanitarian law that Ukraine has been doing since the beginning of the war. So the film provokes a contradictory perception: on the one hand, it is a forceful film about the helplessness of citizens attacked indiscriminately, but on the other hand it has an excessively propagandistic and manipulative tone that blurs its cinematographic value.

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Music

[CPH:DOX '24] It is not possible to find a traditional narrative in a film whose parallelism with the myth of Oedipus would be difficult to grasp if it were not indicated on the poster. The use of continuous ellipses makes it difficult to unravel the narrative, which is never presented in a linear sense. The expressionless faces of the characters cause a distancing from their emotions, even though they are experiencing some tragic moments. There is a phone call that provides a dramatic twist, but the director's gaze is as austere as when the family is watching a soccer game on television. The title suggests the way the story is constructed, closer to a musical composition in which there is no clear narrative but a structure of movements that connect slightly to create an emotional path. There are accidents and suicides that mark the tragic destiny of the characters, but this film, which is impregnated with an enigmatic tone, seems constructed as a self-homage by the director to her own cinema, introducing all the elements that characterize it with a complacency that sometimes make it difficult to decipher.

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Apples Never Fall

[Séries Mania '24] A mediocre family drama wrapped in a certain touch of mystery that shows its weaknesses from the beginning. Annette Bening's work is particularly notable because her character is almost always described from the point of view of her children, but the introduction of a mysterious character who ends up revealing some of the family secrets is predictable, with an outcome as absurd as that of the novel. Which ends up doubling the feeling that this supposedly intriguing character study is singularly weak.

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Preemptive Listening

[CPH:DOX '24] For seven years, the Spanish artist Aura Satz has been recording different types of sirens in such representative spaces as a school near the former Fukushima nuclear power plant or an assembly line for warning systems in the United States, composing a mosaic of ideas and reflections on past and present emergencies. The film is a fascinating journey that unfolds through different layers: the sound one from the recreation of new sounds by experimental artists, the visual one with images taken in long overhead shots and the textual one through reflections by different experts and activists. At the beginning of the film, the Lebanese trumpeter Mazen Kerbaj performs his own interpretation of a siren, while the actor and activist Khalid Abdalla, a Scot of Egyptian descent, creates a story about the siren as the emblematic sound of resistance, oppression and futures lost during the Arab Spring, "a fork in the road that may show an alternative path to the future."

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Lichens Are The Way

[CPH:DOX '24] A quiet film that offers a reflection on nature and the human condition through the description of the different types of lichens found in the Canadian forest of Well Gray. Lichens act as a metaphorical representation of a perfect collaboration, the symbiosis between fungi and algae, face and tail of an organism formed from the deficiencies of both: some provide nutrients, mainly carbohydrates and nitrogen, and the others provide salts and mineral waters that they obtain from their ability to adhere to the substrate. The voice-over of lichenist Trevor Goward explains why they are so fascinating and the functionality they have as detectors of climate change, in a story that is somewhere between philosophical and naturalistic. The images only show close-ups of the lichens, or of Trevor Goward's hands as he explains the difference between a leaf and a lichen, while the gaze towards the humans is shown from a distance. This unique journey through the maps formed by lichens speaks of nature's ability to adapt and proposes an almost philosophical reflection on ways of life that offer survival lessons.

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Grand Me

[CPH:DOX '24] When Melina turns nine, the age at which girls must begin fulfilling their religious obligations in Iran, neither of her parents are at her birthday party. The closeness that allows director Atiye Zare Arandi to show her niece's frustration, sometimes giving her the camera so she can record herself, causes the protagonist to show a surprising maturity for her age, even considering the possibility of taking her parents to justice to claim his responsibility towards her. But the patriarchal society in Iran is also present and the relevance of a religion that establishes the position of women since they are considered adults when they are still children. The father's threats to take Melina away forever, her mother's husband's prohibition on accepting her into his home, the songs that establish the proper way to wear the hijab, are reflected as the normality that surrounds Melina. Her experience highlights the instability of the family nucleus when it is not supported by a consistent structure between responsibility and affectivity.

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Rehab (from rehab)
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