JWR Articles: Film/DVD - A Pair of NFB Shorts at Hot Docs (Directors: Andrea Dorfman, Shazia Javed) - May 17, 2010

A Pair of NFB Shorts at Hot Docs

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Reviewed at the 2010 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival

Flawed, 12:28 min., 2010
Andrea Dorfman
Five stars

Drawing conclusions about unusual body parts

In today’s image-obsessed world, the premise of surgically improving ugly body parts is as topical as digitally “enhancing” photographs. In director/animator Andrea Dorfman’s hands, the personal post-card-told tale magically morphs into fine art of the highest order.

Shot entirely from her point of view as the artist, with each “frame” engagingly coming to life before our very eyes, the notions of long-distance love, anxious parents improving their children with a trip to the plastic surgeon and the joy of being different come together in a spectacular manner as the “homemade” images overflow with skill and emotion.

Pinned back or not, the ear is delighted with Dorfman’s deceptively easy-going narration and the first-rate musical contributions. The melodious, consonant low strings beautifully balanced by some sliding interventions of their uppers and delectably seasoned with mallets, make a listen or a viewing equally rewarding.

Merci mille fois! JWR

Namrata, 9:11 min., 2009
Shazia Javed
Five stars

Becoming 911

Sadly, maddeningly (given ever-widening public discourse and specific support service), violence against women—especially spousal abuse—is nowhere near landing a place on society’s endangered activities list.

Thanks to the courage of Namrata and the deft, sensitive storytelling of Javed, one woman’s ability to push back and take control of her own destiny (and her daughter’s) is readily available to serve as a role model for the countless others (not a question on the census form) to take the plunge for freedom instead of yet another fall at the hands of their husbands (and, as was the case here, cowardly aided and abetted by their mothers and sisters in the punishing acts).

With songs from a dream album accompanying much of the quietly determined monologue (the very telling of which had to enflame old wounds and bitter shame anew), the awful story comes out in a readily-accessible way. Javed’s shifts from Namrata’s cool visage to her gasping/grasping hands at key moments only supports the power of the awful truth.

Happily, here, the surprising way out of hell on earth is simultaneously a masterstroke of filmmaking and the subject’s resolve. This film would make a welcome addition to any sex education curriculum, or perhaps our various governments and religions would prefer yet another lesson go untaught—still another victory for the pandemic of willfull blindness that is at the root of so much global misery. JWR

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Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival National Film Board of Canada
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