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Reviews for June 6th, 2014

Documentary Round-Up






      Small Small Thing, directed by Jessica Vale, tackles a very important human rights issue that goes under-reported by the mainstream media in this part of the world: child rape in Liberia. One such child who was raped is Olivia Zinnah, a 9-year-old being treated at JFK Hospital in Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Many think that the initials "JFK" stand for "Just For Killing" because there's so much death and suffering in the hospital. Olivia was raped at the age of 7, but didn't report it until 2 years later because she was afraid of her rapist, a family member. Everyone in her family except her mother were, and still are, under the impression that her injuries were a result of witchcraft, not rape. Director Jessica Vale doesn't shy away from including an interview with Olivia's mother who recalls the details of Olivia's injuries and the aftermath. In one of the most anger-inducing and alarming parts of the doc, members of the Liberian police admit that they don't have the transportation required to travel long distances when someone is accused of rape. Nor does one of the police officers understand what Vale means by "evidence" when she asks them point blank about what they do once they collect evidence of rape. To provide you with a broader picture of what's going in Liberia, you also learn about Liberia's history and how it's still plagued by child soldiers, poverty and prostitution. You'll feel equally heartbroken and riveted as you observe what Olivia has to go through at JFK Hospital in hopes of surviving her injuries. While watching this exposť will open your eyes to the horrors taking place in Liberia today and make you feel rightfully enraged. Small Small Thing opens at the Quad Cinema. Also at the Quad Cinema, there's Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago, a doc about individuals who embark on a 500-mile pilgrimage called Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. Lydia B. Smith wisely chooses travelers from a wide range of ages and nationalities: Annie comes from America, Tomas from Portugal, Misa from Denmark, Jack & Wayne from Canada, Sam from Brazil and Tatiana from France. Yes, the scenery looks breathtaking and provides plenty of eye candy, but what resonates most are the testimonials from the indivuals because you get a true sense of what their experience is like along the way. You get a chance to hear about their struggles, both physically and spiritually, and how the pilgrimage heals them. Some start off as tourists and end up as pilgrims. Smith also captures the sense of compassion and community found within the pilgrimage as they visit homes where generous hosts cook food for them and have them share it among other pilgrims. A fellow pilgrim carries Annie's backpack to make it easier for her to walk after she develops tendinitis. Another act of kindness happens later on when someone lets Tomas borrow their shoes because he has blisters. It's those kind of moments that highlight the good aspects of humanity for a change especially given the fact that we live in a world filled with hate and violence. Bravo to the filmmaker for including those precious, uplifting human moments and for avoiding the temptation to include herself in the film. At a running time of 1 hour and 24 minutes, Walking the Camino will nourish your mind, body and soul, and inspire you to embark on your own pilgrimage at some point in your life.


Borgman

Directed by Alex van Warmerdam




     

Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Released by Drafthouse Films.
Opens at Lincoln Plaza Cinemas.


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