Elephant’s Dream (DIR. Kristof Bilsen)
As Kinshasa’s struggling economy heals after the civil war in the DRC, its population waits for stable change. People try to march on with their community through unfortunate situations with limited resources, but it’s achingly hard. A sequence featuring a reckless fire burning downtown shows the audience how dire Kinshasa’s firefighting team is. Supreme danger spirals out of control, the help is flustered, and panicked pedestrians criticize. It’s a very powerful scene.
Otherwise, Kristof Bilsen’s Elephant’s Dream is a bit boring. Bilsen, however, could take this as a compliment since he’s aiming to honestly capture vast inactivity and excessive patience. His observant, minimalist approach has given the doc’s subjects enough room to naturally decompress and have sincere conversations. The doc’s strengths are within silent moments with onlookers as their voiceover work accompanies their idling.
That said, I think Bilsen could’ve found a way to make a more stimulating movie while staying faithful to the material. Because as of right now, he’s accomplished the latter but movie goers are going to have difficulty staying interested.
Catch Elephant’s Dream at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:
Tuesday, April 28 at 6:15 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Thursday, April 30 at 5:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Saturday, May 2 at 7:00 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre
Milk (DIR. Noemi Weis)
Are Western practices regarding pregnancy and birth oriented so much toward a business-based model that the best interests of mothers and infants are neglected? Noemi Weis’ Milk attempts to provide an answer to this question while also offering a universal perspective on the politics and controversies surrounding birth and infant-feeding.
Though Milk is visually stunning, it seems uneven. The film’s discussion of infant formula and the ways that it is marketed across the globe could be an entire documentary on its own. The placement of this call to action alongside interviews with new and expectant mothers (formula and breast-feeders alike) doesn’t manage to strike a great balance between the personal and political sides of the problem. Ultimately, it ends up feeling a bit like a missed opportunity.
Despite the setbacks, the issues at the heart of Weis’ film are important ones, whether the viewer agrees with Milk’s potentially controversial stance on public breast-feeding and natural birthing practices or not. It remains to be seen whether audiences that aren’t personally invested in the nuances of these issues will be able to stay engaged long enough to truly internalize the ideas that this film presents.
Catch Milk at Toronto’s Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival on:
Monday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Wednesday, April 29 at 11:00 a.m. @ Isabel Bader Theatre
Click here for more festival details and to buy tickets.
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