Back Towards Light (Halonen, 2018): Finland

Reviewed by Matheus Clorado. Viewed at the SBIFF 2020.

Image result for back towards lightArto Halonen returns to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, following the success of Murderous Trance. This year, the Finnish director, famous for his documentaries and their socially strong stance, iluminates the horrific world of human trafficking.

As his previous feature, Back Towards Light (originally titled Takaisin Valoon) is also based on real events. It recounts Marissa Jaakola’s survival after being held prisoner by her new employer in a foreign country.

Marissa herself is the narrator, and emotionally she carries the viewer through her worst nightmare. Reenactment scenes are presented as flashbacks, filled with sensorial elements such as colors, hand-held camera movements, and frame choices suggesting entrapment. Halonen is successful at creating a compelling atmosphere able to allow the audience to experience Marissa’s story as she tells it.

The colors play an important role in the film as each moment is remembered by our lead in different shades. Approached by Marissa, Halonen became part of her healing process. Attendee at this year’s festival, she shares that telling her story came from a more compassionate desire to alert

Posted at 10am on 02/13/20 | no comments | Filed Under: Films, Santa Barbara Film Festival 2020 read on

Easy Living (Orso Miyawaka, Peter Miyawaka, 2019): Italy

Reviewed by Kimberli Wong at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020

This is Elvis.  Elvis is an immigrant attempting to cross the border between Italy and France, to get to Paris to reunite with his pregnant wife.  Elvis is cool.  As the filmmaker brothers Orso and Peter Miyawaka say, “Nobody is cooler than Elvis.”  Everyone wants to be friends with Elvis.

Which is the catalyst that prompts three people united by chance to try and help him illegally cross the Italian-French border.  These three are:  a medication-smuggling young woman (Camilla), her younger brother her presumed other brother dumped on her last minute to babysit (Brando), and a loser-lost-funny as hell American expat tennis teacher (Don).

The desire Peter and Orso Miyawaka had was to portray immigrants in a different light than they had previously seen in film, in their own words, as everyday people “you or I would be friends with.”  This mirrors their own personal experience growing up along the French-Italian border.  Being there in the 90s, there was an ease at the border, with no military or police patrol, no barricade to stop people from just walking across

Posted at 5pm on 02/11/20 | no comments | Filed Under: Films, Santa Barbara Film Festival 2020 read on



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