Three Identical Strangers

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Last week I saw an early screening of Tim Wardle’s Three Identical Strangers ahead of its cinematic release later this month. The film tells the incredible true story of three identical brothers (Eddie, Bobbie and David) who after being separated at birth would meet by chance 19 years later. In 1980, on his first day of college Bobbie walked onto campus and was greeted as a familiar face by people he didn’t know. His identical brother Eddie had attended the college the year before but had decided not to return. When confronted by the double of his best friend, Eddie’s former roommate rushed to reunite the brothers. The story was covered extensively in the press. One such article would reach David, the third brother, who saw under the headline of ‘twins reunited’ boys who looked exactly as he did, even down to their distinctive ‘pudgy’ hands.

The film movingly captures through interview and archive the total euphoria of their reunion. Documenting how instantly and selflessly the brothers fell in love with one another. The film takes a decidedly dark turn however when the brother’s adoptive families begin to examine the cause of their separation. What the film discovers is unexpected, sinister, and sparks a fundamental consideration of what governs human behaviour. Entangled in these philosophical questions we might not like the answers we find.

It is not only the extraordinary narrative at it’s core that suits Three Identical Strangers to the cinema. It is also Wardle’s expert blending of documentary styles, guiding us so seamlessly between memory and testimony that makes viewing this film a distinctly cinematic experience. It is a story that demands to be seen to be believed. Give some of your time to this film, you won’t be disappointed.

WEINER

scandIn June 2011 Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner tweeted a picture of his bulging crotch from his official Twitter account. The scandal that followed which revealed numerous online interactions of a sexual nature with several different women, caused Anthony to resign, disgraced, from Congress. In 2013 Anthony made an unexpected return to the spotlight when he announced he would run for Mayor of New York. Weiner traces Anthony’s unsuccessful mayoral bid as fresh scandal dismantles the campaign.

Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Weiner grants unprecedented access behind the scenes of Anthony’s 2013 mayoral campaign. The film insightfully captures the controlled chaos that exists in temporary office spaces, the scrambling for financial investment and the often bizarre circus of the campaign trail. But perhaps more interestingly, we witness in extreme proximity a campaign team in crisis as further scandal strikes mid race. Weiner finds a great deal of its humour in the crisis management we see played out on screen. It possesses more than a hint of political farce as in several The Thick of It-esque scenes we see Anthony taking calls with his head on the desk or practising how best to pronounce ‘I am profoundly sorry.’

Part of what makes Weiner so simultaneously compelling and uncomfortable to watch is that it’s central character is such a strange amalgamation of virtue and vice. Our perspective on Anthony is constantly shifting. The film showcases qualities that both attract and repel us. Anthony is a great political talent. He was the youngest member of the New York City council in history, and was viewed as a real rising star in the Democratic Party. He is a charismatic and gifted orator determined to effect real political change. And yet the portrait Weiner builds inspires us to question the cause of this determination. Is it instead rooted in Anthony’s narcissism, egoism or delusion? Anthony’s compulsive self-sabotage and insistence on occupying the spotlight makes watching Weiner like watching a car crash you cannot quite tear your eyes from.

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Weiner post #MeToo is a decidedly different experience to my first viewing in 2016. A depressingly ironic reminder of the times we now live in enters the film in the form of Donald Trump’s statement on the scandal; ‘We don’t want perverts elected in New York’ (but in Washington it’s fine right?) On second viewing I found myself more intently focused on the scandal itself and particularly its representation in the Media. In so many ways the scandal is the perfect news item. It concerns the sex life not only of a public figure, but the kind of public figure that we reserve a particular disdain and scrutiny for, the politician. The story satisfies both our appetite for the titillating and our insatiable desire to see those who claim to be in some way morally or intellectually superior to us dragged through the mud.

The Media’s portrayal of Anthony documented by Kriegman and Steinberg inspires a consideration of the strange position that sex occupies in our society. The visibility of sex in modern culture could be seen as representative of sexual liberation. And yet sex appears again and again closely tied to feelings of shame. The Press’ treatment of Anthony’s scandal is a powerful example of how the Media acts as a key enforcer of this shame, violently dictating what expressions of sexuality are acceptable. The pleasure the Media takes in portraying Anthony as ‘disgusting’ and ‘perverted’ appear to me as incongruous with his behaviour. I absolutely agree that the Anthony’s betrayal of the trust of his wife, son, and the voters is deplorable. But I struggle to apply this same judgement to the acts themselves, which exist only online between consenting adults. To criticise the Media’s coverage is not however to absolve Anthony. It merely articulates the film’s interesting portrayal of a deeply flawed man and a distinctly flawed conservative press. I left this film feeling surprisingly unsure of where I stood on Anthony’s behaviour. Perhaps it is an achievement of Weiner that I felt this way, or perhaps I too found myself caught up in Anthony’s spin.

breaksAn aspect of Weiner that inspires this kind of thought is its concern with the private and personal. Through this film we discover what is at stake beneath the headlines, namely Anthony’s relationship with his wife their baby son. Weiner has astonishing access to the couple’s private life. We witness a marriage under intense strain and public scrutiny. Anthony’s wife Huma (long-term aid to Hilary Clinton) is incredibly intelligent, poised and stunning beautiful. She is a fascinating enigmatic presence. In a memorable scene following the second wave of scandal we find Huma impeccably dressed preparing breakfast for her son in a sleek and modern kitchen. Josh asks her how she is feeling to which she replies ‘its like being in a nightmare.’ Huma’s words said without emotion, juxtaposed against her manicured appearance and surroundings make for a very poignant moment.

humaWhen I think about Weiner something I keep coming back to is why. Why did Anthony allow this documentary such invasive access to the scandal in 2013? Why didn’t Huma leave Anthony? And ultimately why did Anthony do it? Weiner does not give us final answers to these questions. We certainly approach answers, but the film gives us space to make our own judgement. Personally, I like to think of Anthony Weiner as a tragic hero of the classical kind. A man of real talent with a fatal flaw, unable to escape the destiny of his name: Weiner.

The questions raised by this film perhaps find more concrete answers in the press of recent times. In 2016 Huma left Anthony following even more revelations of sexual interactions with women on the Internet. In May of 2017 Anthony was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for transferring obscene material to a minor. Despite these developments I would encourage you to think and watch this film with an awareness of what it is: A powerful record of 2013 and a study of Anthony, his family, and the Media at that time.

Where can you find it?

Netflix

More like this?

Get me Roger Stone

Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press

Lift

 

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Lift (2001) is Mark Issacs’ debut in Documentary film. It appears remarkably simple in its form, as it remains almost exclusively within the confines of a lift in an East London tower block. Issacs filmed the block’s residents in the lift over the course of two months for sometimes 8 hours a day. The resultant film forms a captivating glimpse into the social fabric of Britain in the early 2000s, and through Issacs’ puncturing of a lift’s societal imperative of silence reveals a wealth of human stories.

The film opens with an invitation to laugh, a moment that foregrounds the centrality of comedy in Lift. Lily an eccentric old Jewish woman incorrectly introduces Issac as a ‘reporter’ whilst she rudely bars a fellow resident from joining her in the lift. The film’s humour is partly aided by the social space of a lift’s pre-existing potential for comedy. Issacs’ film captures the all too familiar awkwardness of sharing this intimate space with a stranger through the residents’ awkward glances to camera and in the moments where the silence feels uncomfortably palpable. The ability of lifts to comically enclose discordant characters Lift also memorably exposes when a young headscarf-wearing girl awkwardly joins an incoherently drunk man. Issacs’ timing and directness of speech make his interventions in the lift equally comedic.

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It is not only Lift’s portrayal of a characteristically British observance of social etiquette that allows this film to comment on British society. The residents seem to exemplify Britain’s, but more specifically London’s, multicultural identity. The film beautifully captures the coexistence of various cultures, nationalities, races and religions in one building. In a particularly touching moment Issacs shares a traditional Bengali delicacy with one of the residents. Lift avoids sentimentality on this subject however, as it also records a certain angst amongst the older white community as we overhear Jean (an older Jewish resident) say ‘I counted the white people last night when I couldn’t sleep.’ The lift space also attains a microcosmic status in more subtle terms. Lift hints at a certain absence of community in modern urban life, exposing how even those who literally live side by side and on top of one another remain isolated.

Whether Issacs chooses for his subjects the residents of a block in East London, lorry drivers bedding down for the night, or men of The City, what remains constant is how his projects compelling engage with universal human experience. Issacs seems to possess the rare ability to sensitively but without sentimentality provoke real emotional honesty and insight from his contributors. Issacs is not interested in documentaries that retell a pre-existing story. His filmmaking is instead a mode that focuses on what is universally human, searching for ‘a sense of discovery’ and reaching for “truth.” As in Etre et Avoir questioning facilitates the film’s introspective aspect. Issacs asks the residents questions like; ‘have you ever been in love?’, ‘what have you been thinking about today?’ and ‘what did you dream about last night?’ The answers are unexpected, funny and often moving, like when Issacs asks ‘what is your best memory from your childhood’ to a drunken resident who replies ‘seeing a golden eagle.’ It is through these questions that notions of love, loneliness, death and faith enter the lift, a turn inward that is signalled by shots that take us inside the lift shaft. The interiority that the lift seems to foster comes in part from its character as a transient space. Issacs favours these types of spaces in his films, the kind that exist just outside of the everyday and which people occupy only fleetingly. This consciousness of space permits the lift to become confessional, an element that enhances the thoughtful quality of this film.

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Although Lift is the shortest of the films I have collected so far, its impact by no means reflects this. As a film that documents the effects of ‘a stranger appearing one day in a lift’ its simplicity is deceptive. Issacs powerfully finds human complexity within the familiar in this captivating film that is full of humour.

More like this?

I would really encourage watching more from Marc Issacs, especially When Night Falls or Calais.

Watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJNAvyLCTik

Etre et Avoir (To Be & To Have)

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The massive commercial success of ‘true crime’ documentaries like Making a Murderer and The Jinx combined with our ‘millennial’ vigour for social change makes it easy to think of Documentary solely within this context. Of course Documentary is an important tool to address injustice, but it is more than that. Documentary does not always have to attempt to change the world or teach us didactically about an issue. Documentary can simply capture life. By its very nature it deals with reality, but Documentary resists objectivity. Like its fictional counterpart it asks us to explore a filmmaker’s subjective vision of reality. Etre et Avoir (To Be and To Have)’s filmmaker Nicolas Philibert expresses his frustration on the reductive way Documentary is often viewed in his statement that ‘its too bad because […] very often people consider that Documentary can’t have a metaphoric dimension or a symbolic way of telling about the world.’ He goes on to say ‘you can make, I think, a great film with a tiny subject, it’s more of a question of a way of looking at reality, much more than the subject which is important to me.’

Etre et Avoir is a film that perfectly encompasses this sentiment. In Etre et Avoir we are invited to join Mr Lopez’ class in the rural province of Auvergne. It is a ‘single class’ school, meaning children ranging from the ages of 4 to 11 are all taught in the same classroom. Over the course of a year the film follows the children’s development as they learn to read and count but also form relationships and construct a view of the world and of themselves. A study of a single teacher and his class may appear a decidedly small topic for a film, but Etre et Avoir reaches far beyond the classroom. It is a warm, funny and thought provoking portrait of childhood. It inspires us to interrogate what is universally human, allowing the film to morph into an epic of sorts, only one that is played out on a small and familiar stage.

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Etre et Avoir is an intimate and insightful window into childhood. Philibert captures how these children are shaped by their experiences and relationships in the classroom. The film sensitively explores the relationship between student and teacher through George Lopez, a simultaneously authoritarian and gentle figure. His teaching methods are traditional and disciplined but are delivered with a softness of voice and a genuine interest in all of his students. The close relationships Lopez builds with his students fosters the film’s real insight into the children’s minds as he encourages them to thoughtfully understand their own behaviour. When two of the older children Julien and Olivier are caught fighting, Lopez calmly and collaboratively questions the boys to discover ‘what it means.’ The scene seems to beautifully capture boyhood. The boy’s desire to ‘show one another how strong you are’ speaks to a newfound physical and aggressive energy, whilst Oliver’s clear distress represents its clash with a masculinity not yet trained to conceal emotion. The emotional honesty of this moment among numerous others makes for truly compelling viewing.

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That Philibert was once a student in philosophy is a fact that feels very present in this film. Etre et Avoir has a quietly thoughtful quality. This aspect is partly facilitated by Lopez’s adoption of a loosely Socratic method to teach even the youngest children. He often asks the children questions that feel very abstract; ‘What are nightmares? What do teachers do? What do you learn at school? What is work?’ School becomes a space where the children are prepared for the wider realities of the adult world. Lopez does not shrink away from confronting life’s big questions with his class. When a student very touchingly confines in him about his father’s serious illness Lopez provides comfort but also tells him ‘sickness is a part of life.’ Philibert also seems to flirt with notions of utopia in this film. We glimpse in this school an idealised vision of what education could be like, a classroom in the heart of beautiful farmland where the older children nurture the younger. Philibert harnesses this feeling through scenes that often feel dream like. We watch tortoises slowly moving across the classroom floor, see Lopez calling a child’s name in a tall field of wheat, and we hear underneath many of the scenes the hushed whispers of the younger children.

So much of what is powerful about Etre et Avoir is that it makes you think without telling you what to think. It is in that same spirit I end this post, and instead encourage you find out what it is that you think.

 Sidebar…

Etre et Avoir is also an interesting one to think about in relation to Documentary as a genre because of the unsuccessful legal action of George Lopez. Following the film’s huge critical and commercial success, Lopez attempted to sue Philibert for a portion of the profit. This case speaks to the principle in Documentary that contributors to a film should not be paid.

Where can you find it?

If you can speak French the full film is on YouTube.

If you need the subtitles you can find it on Amazon for a few $$.

The House I Live In

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Eugene Jackeri’s ‘The House I Live In’ (2013) is a comprehensive meditation on the failures of America’s war on drugs. Filmed over 5 years across 25 states, the film’s scope is expansive. It interrogates every aspect of a destructive, amoral and essentially ineffective system. Jackeri traces the origins of the war on drugs, from its conception under Nixon and its escalation under Reagan, discerning how political rhetoric morphed a public health issue into a national criminal justice imperative. He exposes the war’s casualties, revealing the system as a human rights crisis where minority groups and the poor are fed into a vicious cycle of mass incarceration. Finally, ‘The House I Live In’ examines ‘the prison industrial complex’, the sinister machinery that sustains this endless war waged against America’s own people. The war on drugs has failed. That much this documentary makes starkly clear. But ‘The House I Live In’ achieves more than this. It sparks a consideration of the war on drugs as a hideous reflection of a society where the primary value is capital, causing us to darkly question whether this war waged against ordinary people is in fact ‘a success only not on the publicly stated terms…’

Jackeri builds his case for the failure of the war on drugs upon the testimony of countless experts spanning numerous disciplines coupled with incredible access to individuals in the system itself. Testimony from; medical professors, addiction experts, historians, civil rights scholars, journalists, academics, prison guards, narcotics police and a federal judge (the list goes on), provides an aerial view of the socio-political landscape that shaped America’s destructive drug policy and its catastrophic effects. ‘The House I Live In’ is so powerful because it achieves a careful balance between the demands of holistically addressing such a large issue and keeping human stories at the film’s heart. Its origins are intensely personal. In Jackeri’s youth his family, who had fled persecution in Russia and Germany, employed an African-American housekeeper Nannie Jetter (Nannie is her real name). Their families grew close. Over the years Jackeri noticed poverty, joblessness, crime and suffering in Nannie Jetter’s family. When he asked her why she thought this was, her surprisingly simple answer of ‘drugs’ provided the starting point for Jackeri’s film. ‘The House I Live In’ is shaped by Nannie Jetter’s experiences framing the film as a personal journey of discovery.

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Nannie Jetter watching Obama’s inauguration

Keeping Nannie Jetter at the film’s core foregrounds how expertly Jackeri allows real people to make his arguments. A particularly moving instance is the case of Anthony Johnson, a non-violent 24 year old arrested for drug trafficking and facing a potential 5-40 year sentence. He is one of many in this film who fall victim to the mandatory minimum sentencing laws. It is through Anthony’s situation that we are able to see how mass incarceration in minority communities forms a ‘vicious cycle [that] spans generations.’ The statistic that ‘2.7 million children in the US have a parent behind bars, these children are more likely to be incarcerated during their lifetime than other children’ is made tragically real by our meeting Anthony’s baby daughter who he has never met, and later Anthony’s estranged father Dennis Whidbee.  Dennis was also consumed by the trade, spending much of Anthony’s childhood selling drugs out of public housing to support his own addiction. In a moment of striking vulnerability Dennis reflects on his struggles with fatherhood. Speaking directly to camera, his frustration and pain is palpable as he says ‘ I didn’t know how to really be their Dad…I knew I was supposed to…I didn’t have one…I didn’t know how to stop doing what I was doing to be their Dad.’ Moments like those we spend with Anthony’s family movingly locate the human cost of America’s drug policy.

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Anthony’s daughter

Not only is The House I Live In’ incredibly informative, it is beautifully made. The cinematography is captivating, often expressing wordlessly the documentary’s central concerns. In one of the film’s most memorable shots the camera slowly zooms in on an inmates face pressed against the glass of small rectangular window. His face is the only sign of life in a silent sea of white locked cell doors. It is a powerful portrait of isolation. Describing this shot Jackeri mentions ‘you can feel the camera man’s hand trembling.’ The way shots like this are interwoven with interview and archival footage, alongside a carefully curated soundtrack including the likes of Bill Withers and Lou Rawls, makes the film’s form masterful.

‘The House I Live In’ primarily addresses the disproportionate effect of the war on drugs on black Americans. It identifies; how drug laws from their very conception are rooted in the threat of Otherness, how structural impediments perpetuate the cycle of mass incarceration, and how policing both targets and destroys minority communities. At the film’s coda however, David Simon (Journalist and creator of The Wire) introduces a chilling hypothesis. What if the war on drugs is the true expression of our capitalist society? Where the poor, without the protection of the minimum wage, unions, or access to proper housing are no longer seen as legitimate citizens. What if drug policy provides a convenient and deliberate means to ‘get rid off the bottom 15% of the country’ and ‘make money off locking them up?’ Simon’s words, ‘at what point don’t we say kill the poor?’ made me consider in a new light just how pressing this film still feels 5 years after its release. The current opioid crisis predominantly effecting poor white Americans seems to prove Simon’s claim that ‘in the end capitalism is pretty colour blind.’ But looking beyond drugs to the socio-political climate in both the US and here in the UK, this film has given me pause to think about what kind of house it is that we live in.

 

Where can you find it?

Amazon (You can get a free 7 day Sundance subscription which includes this film)

Also YouTube and Google Play for a few $$

 

Want more on this topic?

If you interested in mass incarceration/prison reform I would also encourage you to watch:

Time: The Kalif Browder Story (4 part series)

13th

The Central Park Five

Into the Abyss

 

 

The Square

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I hesitate to call The Square (2013) one of my favourite films because the word ‘favourite’ doesn’t quite feel right. A ‘favourite’ film to me implies that I could watch it over and over again, I couldn’t. This documentary is demanding, and at points difficult to watch. But it is without question the most moved I have ever been by a film of any genre. The Square has left a lasting impression on me. It encapsulates why I think documentaries truly matter, through collapsing difference and distance and replacing these with compassion and connection.

In 2011 thousands of Egyptians took to Tahrir Square in Cairo to call for the removal of their president Hosni Mubarak. Vowing to remain in the square until their demands were met, the revolutionaries called for freedom from a regime that for 30 years had imposed state of emergency law under which human rights were routinely violated. This documentary follows the Egyptian people’s struggle to redefine itself, capturing history as it happens, at street level. It documents Mubarak’s fall from power, the introduction of a military fascist regime and its replacement by a religious equivalent. Calling for the people of Egypt to repeatedly return to the square to demand change. What remains constant, and what this film captures so beautifully is the power and resilience of the Egyptian people hungry for revolution, justice, and the establishment of a new ‘conscious’ era for Egypt.

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Egyptian-American Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim‘s verite style is totally immersive. You are transported to Tahrir Square, seeing through the eyes of the six revolutionaries. It is this style that makes the documentary so moving. You share in the exhilaration of revolutionary change, and the fear and pain of violent oppression. It forces you to witness in uncomfortable proximity the atrocities inflicted by the State on the Egyptian people. It casts an unflinching eye on electrocutions, brutal beatings and murders. It may be hard to watch, but it must be watched. A camera, this film proves is a tool of revolution. (Noujaim herself was arrested three times during the film’s making). Footage of the atrocities, like those this film captures, reaching an international audience through social media was instrumental to Mubarak’s removal. By viewing these scenes without censor you are playing a part in memorialising the innocent lives the State claimed.

The six revolutionaries; Ahmed, Magdy, Khalid, Ramy, Aida, and Ragia are all captivating. Noujaim crafts the film expertly, thrusting the realities of war upon us more forcefully by inviting deep and personal investment in the fate of these revolutionaries. Magdy, a father and member of the Muslim Brotherhood is a particularly interesting figure. The Muslim Brotherhood’s part in the revolution is complex. Violently persecuted under Mubarak, The Brotherhood too called for his removal. However, Brotherhood leadership would later cut deals with the military and establish their own regime under a Brotherhood presidential candidate. We find Magdy torn by his deep commitment to his faith, and his desire to ‘follow his own conscience.’ His relationship to the remaining five interestingly represents the polarization of the Egyptian people, but more importantly it movingly portrays how friendship supersedes political principle.

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Magdy, talking about repeatedly waking up surrounded by secret police in his family home.

It is rare to capture true heroism on film, something that Noujaim manages again and again. A moment with Ahmed Hassan, a gifted speaker and filmmaker, has stayed with me since I first watched this film two summers ago. Amid a military attack Ahmed is sitting on the curb, washing his hands and face before he carefully winds a scarf around his head to cover his mouth. We then follow him as he joins the front line of revolutionaries, the panicked camera man calling for him to return back to a safer distance and to be careful. This moment of unexpected calm amongst chaos, powerfully makes you feel you have witnessed a decision to sacrifice everything for change, a moment that is unlike any other.

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The Square leaves you not with a sense of defeat but with hope that change will come. Although the Egyptian people’s fight for a new ‘conscious’ society continues, the revolution has firmly established a culture of protest. The people will continue to demand change. Ahmed calls the revolution’s greatest achievement ‘that the children now play a game called protest.’ This film is testament to the power of the people, an idea literalised by it becoming the first crowd-funded film to be nominated for an Oscar. Watching this documentary is intense, it is gripping, but most of all it is inspiring.

 

Where can you watch it?

It couldn’t be easier, it’s on Netflix.

The Wolfpack

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Crystal Moselle’s The Wolfpack documents the lives of the six Angulo brothers Bhagavan, Govinda, Narayana, Mukunda, Krisna and Jagadesh. Boys who spent their childhood almost entirely confined within a New York apartment and who found escape through film. The brothers are a product of a Peruvian father (Oscar Angulo) and American mother (Susanne Angulo) who met on the trail of Machu Picchu and subsequently settled in New York City with hopes of emigrating to Scandinavia. On moving to New York, Oscar who was heavily influenced by the teachings of Hare Krishna, was struck by the chaotic nature of the modern capitalist city he saw around him, and fearing the dangers of socialisation for his children kept them for sometimes years at a time in their small apartment. Their father’s influence on the boys is strikingly visual, they are a product of his desire to make his ‘own race’, a concept he partly enforced through assigning all of the children Sanskrit names. They dress in matching clothes and most strikingly all have long waist length dark hair. This documentary captures on film the brother’s survival, through film.

Film for most of us provides a temporary escape from reality, for the Angulo brothers it functioned as much more. Hollywood movies not only punctured the insular world of their apartment but also allowed the boys to imagine new realities. As Mukunda says ‘movies opened up another world.’ The brothers meticulously transcribe and create ingenious costume to enact Hollywood classics like ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’ The documentary also follows the brother’s literal escape and the part that film plays in this, as they begin to explore the city using what Hollywood has taught them as a blueprint to navigate the world beyond. It was on one of these rare trips into New York that filmmaker Crystal Moselle, struck by their unusual appearance, noticed the brothers and formed an unlikely friendship. This relationship would produce 500 hours of film over five years and go on to secure the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2015.

The brilliance of this film is its surprising warmth, despite the subject matters great potential for darkness. This is not to say the film doesn’t have its moments of shade. Moselle captures the claustrophobia of the apartment through her intimate close up interviews with the boys all conducted within their home, and it is testament to her relationship that they expose such painful vulnerability and fear. She also permits the spectre of an abusive and authoritarian father to oppressively haunt these interviews through his absence on camera until half way through the film. The film abounds with powerful images of loneliness and isolation, where the only light illuminating the apartment is that of a small glaring tv.

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But what shines through in this film is creativity, resilience and brotherhood. There is so much humour in the enactments of the movies the boys recreate. A particularly great moment is the boy’s take on ‘The Dark Knight’, complete with a Batman costume made from cereal boxes and yoga mats. There is also such beauty in the truly rare childlike purity and naivety that Moselle captures in the boy’s experiences in New York. This beauty is pushed further by the brother’s looking and talking as though they have just walked off of the set of Tarantino’s ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ But what I felt most watching this documentary was the uplifting feeling that these boys had finally made their own real movie. This film has such depth and complexity, far greater than I could attempt to capture in a single post, but I can guarantee it will be unlike anything you have seen before, and I hope you find the time to watch it.

Where can you find it?

Pretty much everywhere, Sky have it On Demand, Amazon, NowTV, YouTube and Google for a couple of $$.