Sunday, September 15, 2019

TIFF 2019: There's Something in the Water

Ellen Page's quickly-assembled (filmed in April, completed a week before TIFF started) documentary There's Something in the Water takes a look at a handful of black and first nations communities in her native Nova Scotia, where environmental disasters (existing and potential) threaten the health of people. These are stories similar to that of Flint Michigan or many of our arctic Inuit communities, where the people are treated as second-class citizens and left to live with poison in their water and other pollutants.

The film shows its roughness, and the production values are not especially high, but the voices of the women with whom Page talks about these issues are powerful and compelling. This wasn't one of the best "movies" we saw this week, but it is a very powerful and important film.

TIFF 2019 Overview

TIFF 2019: Harriet

Harriet stars Cynthia Erivo in the title role as Harriet Tubman, and tells how she escaped slavery and worked to free many other slaves. At times it seemed she was lucky to elude her pursuers, but she was also shown to be brave and tough and persistent. We saw this film right after Just Mercy, reinforcing our sadness at how evil the rich and powerful (and of course white) have been, and how the legacy of slavery still divides our society and keeps many from real freedom and justice.

There was a lot of action in this film, and while I knew the basics of the story, it filled in a lot of details for me. Not as heart-wrenching or powerful as Just Mercy, but a decent film.

TIFF 2019 Overview

TIFF 2019: Just Mercy

Just Mercy stars Michael B Jordan as a young lawyer who takes up the cause of prisoners on death row who have not been well-treated by the justice system. He finds that one of them (played by Jamie Foxx) was completely railroaded, convicted by the testimony of a single witness who was coerced to lie about what he saw. Based on a true story, this was by far the best film at the festival for both me and Susan. We were bawling by the end, and shocked by the portrayal of southern US "justice", and how poorly it has treated it most vulnerable citizens, black and white (though overwhelmingly black).

Jordan and Foxx deliver outstanding performances, and the film did not drag despite running 2 1/4 hours. This is a must-see.

TIFF 2019 Overview