[SIFF Despatches: Issue Two]

Warrior Women

A portrait of Lakota activist and organizer Madonna Thunder Hawk, from survival school to Standing Rock, this would make a great double feature with SIFF2017 fave Dolores. I particularly appreciated that all the talking heads were women. While working with a smaller budget and muddy archival footage, they made creative choices, particularly a wrenching scene where discussion of sexual assault was paired with the visual of a horse being roped, upsetting in an earned way.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Based on the YA novel and focusing on the part of the story at the conversion camp, it was hard to watch parts of this with an audience for whom the camp and its religious rhetoric was abstract & hilarious concept and not a real threat of abuse. It’s set in 1993, but the isolation of the teens at camp gives it a sense of urgency: this could be 2018 with their phones taken away.

Skate Kitchen

The first feature from the director of The Wolfpack (a title that could have served well for this too), it’s at least 15 minutes too long, and I didn’t love that the drama revolved around a boy, but it was a treat to spend time with these fearless girls, demanding space in the city for themselves and their skills. Plenty of loving shots of skateboard tricks, but even better, plenty of true teen girl conversations.

The Song of Scorpions

I picked this for the cast alone (Golshifteh Farahani, Irrfan Khan), and it turned out to be a slow-burning, beautifully shot (both bright desert and lowlight, just stunning work by Pietro Zuercher) revenge film. She’s a healer, a scorpion singer, and he’s the man who thinks she should marry him just because he’s never stopped hanging around. It’s slow, in that way that made me grateful I was in a theater and forced to focus.

Let the Sunshine In

It’s possible that if I had more than twenty year old high school French I would have gotten more out of this. I do not, so for me it was a tedious film where for the bulk of the runtime various mediocre men talked a lot of wank at (a luminous as always) Juliette Binoche, then one dances with her instead, in a way that is meant to be romantic but to me felt ridiculous.