Showcasing new inventive works in non-fiction, experimental and media, the celebrated festival DocFortnight 2021 celebrates its 20th anniversary this year with an essential selection of imaginative, prestigious, high-stylized award-winning films worth your attention. Held by MoMA and running virtually nationwide March 18-April 5, some of the films here demonstrate an immediate connection and relation to the topics of exploring souls and places: impressive works depicting personal journeys of struggle, battle and overcoming, completely rooted in their respective places. Through individual stories, profound character studies, immersive examinations on place, culture, habits, city and nation, they reveal important facts on both their subjects and the place they come from.
A masterpiece in modern Neorealism, Isabel Lamberti’s LAST DAYS OF SPRING deeply transcends such material as it gets exclusive access to the lives of a struggling family living in the slums outside Madrid. As the parents engage on a dispute to benefit the relocation order, the youngsters pursue their aspirations with maturity, professionalism and the temptations of easy money. While observing each family member’s motives and expectations, Lamberti paints an affecting modern survivalist tale, an impressive study on comradeship and community, family virtues and human behavior, and the conflicts among economic despair and civic obligations.
In EXTASE, the female team behind the Oscar-nominated doc “The Edge of Democracy” reunite again for this enigmatic, melancholic and insightful look at a young woman’s social, physical and mental trajectory in parallel with the country’s political fractures. Produced by Petra Costa and helmed by Moara Passoni, the film digs up the ballerina girl’s emotions as she narrates her struggles with people, family, politicians and anorexia while traversing important dilemmas in her life frame: coming of age in the 90’s and experiencing Brazil’s corruption-fueled politics with overviews on its capital, Brasilia. Blending styles and composing evocative, metaphorical images with impressionism influence, demonstrating fascination for the female’s body, its sensibility and mysterious reactions, Passoni crafts a passionate, truthful and spellbinding hybrid of doc and drama.
Filmed entirely inside the protagonist’s apartment in Brussels, DELPHINE’S PRAYERS is a haunting, shocking and utterly moving one-woman show, where an African woman living (and working as a prostitute) abroad speaks up about all injustices she had endured throughout the years. Abandoned by her parents, cursed by her community, abused and raped, she makes remarkable statements on her condition, the path that took her there, her relationship with identity, faith, sexuality and morality, with incredible honesty and commitment to her words. Cameroon-born, Belgium-based director Rosine Mbakam crafts a powerful female character study while presenting (through Delphine’s revelations) important differences between Africans and Europeans.
(DocFortnight Festival 2021 runs virtually now thru April 5th at MoMA’s virtual cinema. Go to https://www.moma.org/calendar/film/5290 for details.)