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Seventh Row

Films by Indigenous filmmakers, Correspondencia, and more to watch this weekend

publishedabout 1 month ago
6 min read

Hello there,

This is the free version of our weekly newsletter. The premium version has 20 excellent recommendations, on top of these, of what to watch at festivals, virtual cinemas, VOD, and via streaming. We also spotlight several virtual film festivals worth catching worldwide, featuring films we love that have yet to secure distribution (so this may be your only chance to see them!).

In our premium newsletter for members this week, we recommend more virtual film festival screenings, plus additional VOD, virtual cinema, and streaming recommendations. If you become a member now, shoot us an email, and we'll be happy to send you these recommendations, too!

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Wherever you are in the world, this week, you can watch the wonderful short Correspondencia on Mubi and stream Kelly Reichardt's Night Moves.

In Canada, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers has programmed a series of Indigenous films FREE on TIFF digital (all weekend) to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. Some of these films are available in other parts of hte world, too, via VOD.

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Stories are power: Films by Indigenous filmmakers

The great triple-threat Elle Máijá Tailfeathers has programmed a mini-Indigenous film festival at TIFF for National Indigenous History Month. The films are free from June 18-20 while tickets last, so get your tickets now! Many of the films are available on VOD or other streaming services worldwide.

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open - free from June 18-20 in Canada (& after on CBC Gem with commercials) + Netflix everywhere else

Here's an excerpt from the intro to my interview with the co-directors of the film:

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is a rare film: not only does it centre women’s often invisible experiences, but it also features a cross-cultural encounter between two Indigenous women from different nations and socio-economic backgrounds. We first meet Áila (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) in a doctor’s office where she’s having an IUD inserted; we stay with her as she changes into a gown, goes through the procedure, and prepares to leave — finding meaning in the empty spaces and minutiae, which will define the film. On her way home, Áila spots Rosie (Violet Nelson) a young, pregnant Indigenous woman, on the street who is barefoot and distressed.
Áila invites Rosie home to offer her shoes, clothes, and comfort, and the film follows the pair in real-time during this encounter. As a Sami woman, Áila feels connected to Rosie’s experience as an Indigenous woman, but Áila also has much more privilege: she’s middle class rather than just out of foster care, and she’s also white-passing. This makes Rosie distrustful of her, no matter how sincerely Áila wants to help; to Rosie, it’s too reminiscent of her experiences with white settlers. Because Rosie is a survivor of abuse, Áila wants to help her get out of her unsafe domestic situation, but effecting change is more complicated than Áila first anticipates.

Read the interview.

Click here for tickets.

Vai - available on TUBI/VOD in the US and VOD (YouTube/GooglePlay) in Australia/NZ

From the producers of Waru, a film with eight vignettes about how the community copes with the death of a young Maori boy, comes a similar project, Vai, set in the Pacific Islands surrounding New Zealand. Once again, eight women each direct one of eight single-take shorts, shot handheld, and following the protagonist’s perspective. But while Waru looked at a single community on a single day, Vai looks at multiple communities in multiple countries with multiple languages. Here, the connective tissue is that each of the protagonists are named Vai, and each is about ten years apart in age; the film starts with the youngest character and ends with the eldest.

Because the subject matter is lighter, Vai is brighter and more vibrant, rich in the landscape’s natural colours: greens, blues, and reds. Each of the shorts tends to centre around cultural rituals — a birthday party, a ceremony — and features women who are torn between the opportunity offered abroad, usually in New Zealand, and their ties to their family and the land of their remote island nations. Taken together, the films paint a picture of the dominating influence of New Zealand — the biggest country in a sea of small ones, all far from the rest of the world — and the importance of local culture and ritual, but also the increasing importance of education and the precarity of life on the land (one of the shorts is about collecting drinking water). Life isn’t easy for any of the Vais in this film, but they persevere and offer hope for the future.

Click here for tickets.

Now streaming

Correspondencia - streaming on Mubi worldwide

Almost a year ago, Orla reviewed this short from Summer 1993 director Carla Simón and her friend, filmmaker Domingo Sotomayor. It's now streaming on Mubi worldwide.

Here's an excerpt from Orla's review:

Carla Simón’s and Dominga Sotomayor Castillo’s collaboration, Correspondencia (Correspondences), is so thrilling because it defies these perceived limitations of film. While it’s not a “quarantine film” — it was shot in late 2019 — its spirit feels akin to the films we’re seeing emerge as a response to the coronavirus pandemic: films made quickly and cheaply with resources available at home. Take Netflix’s series of quarantine films, Homemade, as an example, or Sophy Romvari and Mike Thorn’s short film, Some Kind of Connection. Correspondencia is just as homemade.
The film is a series of video “letters” between Simón and Sotomayor, who reside in Spain and Chile respectively. Over the course of 19 minutes, we see four letters sent between Simón and Sotomayor, each composed of new footage, archival footage, voiceover, and written text. “Dear Dominga. My grandmother died three months ago,” Simón’s first letter begins, the words written on screen with no accompanying voiceover. “We’re cleaning out her apartment.” We hear snippets of conversations and see grainy snapshots of details in the apartment, like clothes poking out of a wardrobe or a desk cluttered with plants and ornaments. She asks questions and leaves them hanging for us, the audience, and Sotomayor, her correspondent, to ponder: “Who will worry about me? Who will tell me about my mother?” More generally, she asks how we cope with a sudden absence in our lives. Simón concludes: “Now, my family is just two generations. There are no more grandmothers to learn from. There are no children yet to teach. Maybe we’ll have to make some?”

Read full review.

Night Moves - All4 UK, Crave Starz/Hoopla in Canada, Beama Film AU, Hoopla/Kanopy/Fandor/Plex

Before the milk heist in First Cow, Kelly Reichardt tackled crime via environmental terrorism in Night Moves.

Here's an excerpt from my essay comparing Reichardt's approach to the crime genre in First Cow and Night Moves from our ebook Roads to nowhere: Kelly Reichardt's broken American dreams:

It’s not until about halfway through the run time of both Night Moves and First Cow that a crime occurs. In Night Moves, everything up until that point has been preparation for the act, and as soon as the bomb is set, Josh (Jesse Eisenberg), Harmon (Peter Sarsgaard), and Dena (Dakota Fanning) are under constant threat of being caught. A man with car trouble stops right in view of their getaway canoe; police checkpoints are set up; and Josh realises too late that his boots are suspiciously muddy, which Reichardt shows us with a quick closeup. By contrast, in First Cow, the first half of the film is spent watching Cookie’s and King-Lu’s friendship bloom and develop, and the idea to steal milk from the first cow in the region comes as almost an afterthought. Their first few forays into stealing milk are not fraught with the tension of being caught; instead, Cookie takes the time to coax the cow with soft words and a gentle demeanour.
Although both Night Moves and First Cow are ostensibly “crime films,” Reichardt uses the crime as a device through which to explore characters and the world they live in rather than as the main attraction and thrill of the film. In both films, she asks us to question whether it’s the characters or the world around them that’s immoral. In Night Moves, it’s the characters; in First Cow, it’s the world around them, and their crime balances the scale. Reichardt guides us to this conclusion through how she structures each film and what scenes and elements she emphasises. The crime and its aftermath are the focal point of Night Moves, whereas the friendship between Cookie and King-Lu is the focal point of First Cow. Consequently, Reichardt effectively treats the characters in Night Moves as criminals and those in First Cow as people committing a necessary crime in an unjust world.

Purchase Roads to nowhere here to read the full essay.

Stream free on Plex in the US.


Best,

Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief

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