With Antoine, filmmaker Laura Bari treats us to a sensitive portrait of a six-year-old boy – one like any other, except that he’s blind. We witness the struggles this causes as he learns to read and write Braille and use an adapted computer. But this isn’t a film about the struggles of a blind child; instead, we’re presented with the real and imaginary worlds of childhood. The filmmaker puts us on the level of children, and adults recede into the background. We follow Antoine in his classes, playing with friends, skating, and visiting family. We accompany him on imaginary excursions as a detective trying to solve the mystery of Madame Rouski’s disappearance, listen to him as a radio host, and sit shotgun as he drives his parents’ car. Antoine allows us access back into childhood. We do not pity Antoine or admire his struggle, because in the end, there really isn’t one. Antoine is blind, but he’s articulate, intelligent, and creative. He’s simply a boy. And for the duration of the film, we enter into and experience his world.
– Thom Large
Afghanistan: le choix des femmes
Hadja Lahbib’s documentary Afghanistan, le choix des femmes follows the story of two women in Afghanistan. But these are not typical Afghani women – Habiba Sorabi is Afghanistan’s first female governor, and Aicha Habibi is a warlord. This hour-long film challenges the way we normally view the problem of gender and forces us to consider the ways in which women might actually wield power in Afghanistan. At the same time, the film is refreshingly unobsessed with gender – Aicha Habibi claims to never have even considered herself as a woman – focusing instead on the fact that both women are highly respected and influential members of society.
Though they embody opposite ends of the political spectrum, the women both represent “two facets of the same determination to change the world. Each of them has more or less given up on family life to serve her country.” Turning away from the much-debated issue of how the U.S. will be able to help Afghanistan, the main question becomes: how will individuals – and women, in particular – partake in the rebuilding of their own country? If this doesn’t draw you in already, its depictions of the beautiful Afghani landscape surely will.
– Camille Holden
Both films show at the Rencontres Internationals du Documentaire de Montreal festival, running from Oct. 13 to 23. Visit ridm.qc.ca/en/home.html for locations and times, and check our next issue for more RIDM coverage. Images courtesy of RIDM