Four more short reviews from the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Blood Relative. (Documentary, 75 minutes, Canada, director Nimisha Mukerji). Thalassemia, a genetically transmitted blood disease that impedes the growth of its child victims, is fatal without regular blood transfusions backed up by medication. The disease is especially prevalent in India, where the health care system cannot keep up with the demand for treatment. The film tracks the efforts of one man to save the lives of two children. But it never delves into the biology: genetic diseases are easily stopped by genotyping prospective parents. That should have been the focus.
Bay of All Saints. (Documentary, 74 minutes, USA/Brazil, director Annie Eastman). A competent script and cinematography make this a stand-out among this year’s docs. We follow the stories a a few residents of Brazil’s palafitas, shacks built on stilts over a polluted bay, as they learn of the government’s plans to tear down their homes.
Sound of the Bandoneon. (Documentary, 75 minutes, Netherlands, director Jiska Rickels). We are victims of an artsy techno-phobic director. The bandoneon is that accordian-like instrument that accompanies Argentinian tango. This film features lots of close up musical pyrotechnics as well as some interesting foot work; we also learn of the strange origins of the bandoneon. Very entertaining. But we are left wondering how the bloody thing works.
Becoming Redwood. (Drama, 98 minutes, Canada, director Jessie James Miller). An original. A winner. See this one.When young Redwood’s father is busted for dealing marijuana, the eleven-year-old is sent off to live with his estranged mother and her psychopathic, gun-toting family in an isolated house with a madman in the basement. Redwood survives on a combination of courage, wit and — most important — an ongoing fantasy that he is one shot down from Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the Masters golf tournament. The character-driven plot keeps the audience in suspense: will this film descend into bathos? It doesn’t. See this one.