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Rescuing the Victims of a Violent World


By Roger Costa


Truthful and intensely striking, director Jenifer McShane’s SXSW’s Special Jury Award Winner follows the daily routine of a pair of officers from the health department, responsible to hunt down and rescue mentally-ill people, trying to hurt someone or themselves. Her cameras go around these incredible, fearless and respectful on-duty cops, as they work on heavy cases together, armed with skills of compassion and communication, talking, convincing, and helping folks in crisis figure out how to get rid of their self-destructive demons. The viewer is invited to witness some of their actions, which consist in patience and trust, including negotiations with a suicidal guy who cut himself, a dangerously agitated man inside a Hospital facility, a crackhead threatening to jump off a bridge, a man causing a confrontation in front of a nightclub, and others. As they give themselves entirely to their risky profession, willing to save these souls from darkness, the men are also, individually, struggling to maintain themselves in shape as citizens, fathers and husbands. Each men open up about their fractured emotions and relationships with family and society, giving revelatory testimonies about their strength, determination and bravery, but also about being traumatized, fragile and insecure. Highly emotional, heartbreaking and alarming, it’s a great achievement about human co-dependence and redemption. (HBO Documentary. 11/15. Village East Cinemas.)


Exposing the violent acts and brutal murders executed by the Mafia in Palermo, Italy, Award-winning British director Kim Longinotto’s deeply shocking film is seen through another female lenses, the main subject in the film, the notorious Italian photo-journalist Letizia Battaglia. The director follows the aging photographer through her daily activities, as she reveals topics of her personal life and career blended through historical genocides promoted by the Mafia, and the devastating effects on its communities. An acclaimed selection at Sundance, Berlin and DOC NYC 2019, the film presents its material with haunting honesty, structured as an inventive, fascinating time-travel puzzle, an aesthetic blending silent movies footage, journalistic material and her impressive, gruesome photos. The marvelous idea is developed as Letizia narrates her childhood traumas, the transition into maturity, and from writing to photographing, her broken relationships with diverse lovers and estranged connection to daughters, as well as her inclusion into politics and activism. Investigative and accurate, Longinotto crafts a sumptuous and horrifying portrait of the Cosa Nostra bloodshed and a woman’s courageous exposé for peace. (Cohen Media Group. 11/22. Quad Cinemas.)


Directed by Sabrina McCormick and Soopum Sohn, this modest and efficient eco-friendly thriller is set against the real story of the conflicts caused by the construction of the Belo Monte Dam in the state of Amazonas. Controversial and suspenseful, the film gathers a clan of eccentrics, locals and foreigners, to depict a few timely issues, such as the social and political divisions affecting that region, capital interest, sex-trafficking, pedophilia, and injustice against indigenous communities. Seen through the eyes of a 13-year old girl who’s accidentally separated from her family, and abducted by a diplomat sent to negotiate the residents’ relocation, the directors create a sense of magical realism in contrast with the tragic aspects of the story. Gorgeously shot and thought-provoking, it’s a fast paced atmospheric drama, a brilliant collaborative work. (Outsider Pictures/Strand Releasing. 11/15. Village East Cinema.)

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