[SIFF Despatches: Issue Five]


The story of a sexual assault and its aftermath, what makes it interesting is its gender reversal. It’s not going to work for everyone and I don’t entirely buy the ending, but for me the story of a young woman growing up and finding independence from a toxically masculine environment was worth telling. Figuring out who you want to be when those around you don’t support that change is hard work. (PS The puppy’s safe.)


A low budget experiment, this film is made up of eight shorts, each ten minutes long, shot in single takes, directed by and starring Maori women, and all focused on the same ten minutes in a day marked by the funeral for a young boy. Some shorts are stronger than others, but the single take format helps them fit together as a package. (Downside: single take swoopiness on the big screen might cause motion sickness.)

The Devil’s Doorway

A found footage movie that never entirely evades the question of why they’re still filming, this one worked on me thanks to its 1960s Magdalene laundry setting. Those places were horror films in their own right, and this film is just a half a step away from the truth as two priests go to investigate a potential miracle and find a lot more Church sanctioned horror than they had expected. Bonus points for creepy children.

The Widowed Witch

Both deeply sad and dryly funny, this story of a thrice widowed woman in rural China reclaiming her power was a surprise favorite. Deemed a witch by those around her, she embraces the label, solving issues with a keen eye to the humanity at work. There are limits, though, even for a witch. Beautifully shot, predominantly in long, wide, static takes (though there is a potentially triggering sequence from her POV early in the film).