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Rustic Oracle (one of our favourite films of 2020) is now on Prime in all 'English-language territories'; the doc The Other Side of Everything about the legacy of communist Yugoslavia is now on OVID; Acasa, My Home is now streaming; and Peterloo is back on All4 UK (+ streaming many other places!).
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Rustic Oracle - Prime Canada/UK/US/Ireland, VOD everywhere else
One of the best films of 2020 is now streaming in UK,US, and Ireland, plus on iTunes/Vimeo/VOD worldwide. It's an Indigenous story about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and a mother and daughter grieving a loss.
Here's an excerpt from my intro to my interview with writer-director Sonia Boileau:
The result is one of the very best films of the year, Rustic Oracle, about a Mohawk mother and daughter, Susan (Carmen Moore) and eight-year-old Ivy (Lake Delisle), coping with the aftermath of Ivy’s teenage sister, Heather (McKenzie Deer Robinson), going missing. Set largely in the 1990s, in the time before social media, Susan and Ivy go on a road trip to personally try to find Heather after the police have provided little assistance. Told through Ivy’s perspective as an adult looking back on her childhood, when she didn’t fully understand what was happening, the film weaves a complex and heartbreaking story of family bonds, grief, and the effects of systemic violence on the community.
As a single mother, Susan was already struggling to keep things together and support her family, and when she loses her daughter, she becomes so stressed that it’s difficult to still be a good mother to her remaining daughter. Meanwhile, Ivy hasn’t just lost a sister, but her main support system. The film follows Ivy and Susan as they look for Heather and find a way to regain the closeness between them that they’d lost because of all the trauma they experienced.
Although Rustic Oracle deals with dark and difficult subject matter, the film is never gratuitous in its depiction of violence — in part because Boileau didn’t want to retraumatize Indigenous viewers who might be watching the film. It’s much more about the psychological effects of this systemic problem — not on those who go missing, but on those who have lost loved ones.
Read the full interview.
The Other Side of Everything - OVID Canada/US, Kanopy Canada/US, VOD UK
One of several works of creative nonfiction streaming on OVID this month as part of their special series on documentary.
Here's an excerpt from the intro to Elena Lazic's interview with the director:
Director Mila Turajlic had a film waiting to happen in the story of the apartment her mother Srbijanka grew up in. In the 1940s, under communism in Yugoslavia, large flats owned by the wealthiest citizens were divided to accommodate less fortunate families. Now, neither communism nor Yugoslavia are even in place anymore, yet some apartments such as Srbijanka’s are still divided. Turajilic’s mother lives in one half of the flat and only remembers the other. More than a simple metaphor, this division is a symbol of the way Serbia, and the other countries that constituted Yugoslavia, bear the traces of the past and are still trying to deal with their uncomfortable story.
Yet the film goes beyond a mere description of the situation and, as it progresses, centers on Srbijanka. A public figure who protested nationalism, both at the time of Slobodan Milosevic and today, she never even considered leaving the country, the way many others did. Through electric interviews between mother and daughter, The Other Side of Everything questions the pros and cons of staying in a country that is falling apart, and the very nature of resistance.
Read full interview.
Acasa, My Home - Kanopy and VOD in Canada/US, Poland/Romania/Portugal/Bulgaria/Czech Republic HBO
One of the best docs of 2020 is now streaming.
Here's an excerpt from Lindsay Pugh's review:
As demands for productivity and capital increase, it takes guts to opt out of the game and learn to find self-worth elsewhere. Modern life can be cruel and relentless, full of too much time indoors at work and not enough with nature or loved ones. It’s not surprising to me that Gica, the patriarch of the Enache family featured in Acasă, My Home, has decided that regimented city life is not for him. He prefers to reside in a small shack in the Văcărești Delta in the middle of Bucharest, living off the land in absolute poverty and answering to no one. While this choice might be suitable for a solitary man, the addition of nine children and a spouse complicates matters significantly, along with the state’s decision to make the land an official nature park.
Director Radu Ciorniciuc takes his time setting up this documentary narrative and is careful to avoid emotional manipulation. We aren’t meant to pity the Enaches, only to observe and try to understand them. At the beginning of the film, we see the children happy and carefree, fishing in the pond, joking around, and sleeping together in a mess of dirty blankets. All things considered, they are relatively well-adjusted. Aside from their extreme living situation and social services-related anxieties, they seem like any other kids.
The languid, poetic cinematography (by Ciorniciuc and Mircea Topoleanu) highlights the magic of a freewheeling childhood spent outdoors. Golden light bathes the children as they walk down grassy paths; a pre-sunrise fishing trip is illuminated by the glow of a headlamp, hazy orange skies, and the reflection of distant city lights on water; the “best potatoes in the world” are devoured in the shadows, made visible by heavy steam. For the children, this life is all that they know; moments of beauty are everywhere.
Read the full review.
Peterloo - All4 UK/Ireland, Prime US/UK/Ireland/AU/Scandinavia/Latin America, VOD Canada/NZ
We loved Peterloo so much we wrote a whole book about how it was made by interviewing Mike Leigh and all of his collaborators.
Here's an excerpt from my essay on the film which appears in the book:
Mike Leigh’s Peterloo is a rare story about the fight for a fairer democracy: one of carnage rather than triumph, one that ends with tragedy and unfinished labour rather than success and social change. In other words, despite its broad canvas, including more than a hundred characters acting out historical events, Peterloo is every bit a Mike Leigh film: peppered with flawed, complicated characters, inspirational because it is a story of recognizable people, and nothing like the silk-swishing period pieces that are the staple of British cinema.
Peterloo is a story of grassroots political organizing, of political change as the product of many individuals pulling together. Leigh introduces two distinctive groups — the ruling upper classes and the working classes — as a means of offering insight into two opposing worldviews. The authoritarian upper classes suffer from a sort of groupthink. They are uniform in opinion, perspective, and even dress. By contrast, the working classes (including those same soldiers, who have now come home) are strongly individuated and organize themselves in an inherently democratic fashion. As a group, the activists are united in working toward the same goal, but they are still not afraid to disagree. By showing us all the moving pieces in this movement, Leigh emphasizes the collective organizing that went into bringing it to life.
In Leigh’s script, the heroes of the war who lived through Waterloo survive only to be killed at Peterloo by the country they were fighting for. Yet the film ends not with the massacre, but with the seeds of what it will lead to. Despite the tragedy of Peterloo, I left the theatre invigorated about not just the need for change, but the feeling that spurring that change is something accessible to all of us.
Purchase your copy of the ebook Peterloo in Process: A Mike Leigh collaboration here.
Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief
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The Seventh Row newsletter is a free weekly newsletter featuring streaming recommendations, primarily for Canada, the US, UK, and Australia, but always features at least one worldwide streaming recommendation. We also offer occasional giveaways of free downloads of our favourite films and other benefits! Questions? Comments? Reply to this email, or find us on Twitter @SeventhRow. If you're reading this because someone forwarded this email to you, consider that helpful button to become a regular subscrier.
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