Screening Room: ‘Joy’ at the Venice Film Festival

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Sudabeh Mortezai’s Joy, which screened at this year’s Venice Film Festival, is a harrowing story about a Nigerian woman trapped in a cycle of dependency as a sex worker in Austria.

My review is at The Playlist:

At the start of Sudadeh Mortezai’s downbeat trafficking tragedy “Joy” there’s some reason to think that one is about to see a story of power and independence. A young Nigerian woman sits in the hut of a juju man while he wrings the blood from a chicken’s slashed neck over an altar and leads her in the recitation of charms. “Protect her from the living and the dead,” he says about her upcoming trip to Europe. “No man will harm me!” He has her shout like a young warrior heading off to battle…

You can check out the trailer here.

Tribeca Film Festival 2013: Dire Things

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The 2013 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival, which runs through this weekend, is starting off well. The planners are continuing their trend of paring down the offerings and focusing more on their strengths (on-point documentaries, the occasional high-profile indie drama or comedy) than trying to appeal to everybody with a scattershot program overly reliant on marquee names and red-carpet events.  The result is many stories about grim things, from Oxycontin abuse in Appalachia to the 1985 Philadelphia police’s fatal bombing of a radical group’s rowhouse.

I’ve been covering some of the first weekend’s films for PopMatters, here’s some of what was on offer:

  • The Project and Big Men — Mercenaries stumble in creating an anti-pirate militia in Puntland, while American wildcatters confront pitfalls aplenty in Ghana and Nigeria, in two documentaries examining crises in Africa.
  • Let the Fire Burn and The Kill Team — Two documentary autopsies of violent tragedies, the first in Philadelphia and the second in Kandahar, show the results of systematic dehumanization.
  • Oxyana and Bottled Up — A gritty documentary and fluffy comedy bring a similarly hardheaded sensibility to the invisible epidemic of pain pill addiction.

More to come.