Monday, June 10, 2013

Elena (2012)

WHO: Brazilian filmmaker Petra Costa made this.

WHAT: Not to be confused with Andrey Zvyagintsev's 2011 drama with the same title, this first-person documentary was undertaken after Costa had an inspirational viewing of Agnès Varda's The Beaches of Agnès. I haven't seen it, but after several impassioned recommendations from cinephiles who have, I'm very excited to. Let me quote from Jordan M. Smith's recent review:
Elena was a Brazilian dancer turned movie bound New Yorker, dead set on becoming a star. Following in her sister’s footsteps, Petra has taken up the camera, performs before it and let’s her voice lay elegantly aloft the starkly personal collage she’s constructed.
WHERE/WHEN: Tonight only at the Roxie Theater at 9PM.

WHY: I haven't yet had a chance yet to attend this year's edition of SF IndieFest's annual showcase DocFest, which began last week and runs through June 20th at the Roxie and other Frisco Bay venues, after which it takes up a three-day residency at Santa Cruz's Rio Theatre. Though the festival began last Thursday, there are only a couple of fest selections that audiences won't have at least one more chance to see over the next two weeks. Check David Hudson's handy round-up of press previews to get a full sense of the program. But although none of the linked previewers mention Elena, my sense from the Facebook and Twitter endorsements I've spied is that it will be one of the festival's biggest highlights.

HOW: DocFest is all-digital this year, but that' makes sense as so few documentaries are shot on film anymore. This one mixes footage shot using digital and analog video cameras with that from a Super-8 film camera, which may be confounding to would-be format purists trying to decide whether to attend or not.


  1. Brian: I'm not in town, but I am one of those purists who was similarly confounded by Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell, I wanted to see it but felt if I caught the digital version, all that's been offered so far at least out here, I'd be missing the flavor of the Super 8mm parts. Landmark showed a trailer of that on film, which gave an idea of the contrast between the different textures, much (most?) of which might be less apparent if it was all on video.

  2. Interesting comment, Larry. After reading your SFIFF reflections the obvious follow-up for me is to question whether a film presentation of images captured via video technology is any more or less "impure" to format than a video presentation of images captured via film.