Raindance 2020 film reviews: I Am Not a Hero, The Woman with Leopard Shoes, The Great Green Wall, The State of Texas vs Melissa
Ivan Radford | On 07, Nov 2020
I Am Not a Hero
Why now? Why not before? That’s the question one nurse pointedly asks in this excellent, powerful documentary about the health service’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Saving lives in what is both a career and a vocation, nurses and doctors have long been on the frontline through all manner of crises, but it’s only in the past year that people have lined up to clap them and label them “heroes”. This documentary that takes us behind the scenes of the Belgian medical fight against the virus looks at the grim reality behind that moniker, as Erasmus University Hospital staff try to keep positive and keep saving lives, while making do without enough personal protective equipment to keep them safe. Directors Pablo Curtzen Diaz, Robin Smit and Stijn Deconinck get remarkable access to show us the bleak truth and brutal risks being taken every day to combat the pandemic, and the result is a reminder that while these people are unquestionably heroes, they should also be treated and supported as such, so they can continue to their jobs during and after this crisis.
The Woman with Leopard Shoes
Sometimes, the more restrictions a film faces, the more it thrives – and that’s certainly the case for this enjoyably low-key thriller, which unfolds almost entirely in one location. It follows a burglar who breaks into a home to steal a box, only for guests to arrive and leave him hiding in the study. Director Alexis Bruchon takes his cue from Hitchcock and film noir, not only in his gorgeous black-and-white visuals but in the restraint shown by the camera’s perspective, restricting us to the burglar’s eye-line and understanding. Information is drip-fed through text messages more than dialogue, and leaves us to piece together what’s happening from our protagonist’s facial expressions and the beautifully energetic soundtrack. An impressive calling card and stylish surprise.
The Great Green Wall
City of God director Fernando Meirelles exec-produces this inspiring documentary, which follows the titular tree-planting project, which aims to make a green wall of forests across the continent of Africa to help combat climate change among other problems. Journey from west to east, and presented by the engaging singer Inna Modja, this is a hopeful and uplifting snapshot of people trying to make a difference, capturing the music, energy and determination that fuels their ambitions.
The State of Texas vs Melissa
This heart-wrenching documentary follows Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death in Texas for the death of her two-year-old daughter. Never witnessed as being violent towards her child, she was nonetheless presented as a violent parent in an area of poverty and poor education. Director Sabrina Van Tassel sensitively picks apart the court case that led to her sentence on Death Row, exposing prejudice and shortcomings in the justice system that come as no surprise, in an age of true crime documentaries, but are nonetheless shocking, as the human cost of a faulty system is presented with an unflinching heart.
All films are available until 11.59pm on Saturday 7th November. To book a ticket, click here.