#hotdocs17: Reviews (Day 3) – ‘Winnie’, ‘The Lives of Thérèse’ and ‘Libera Nos’


For decades, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s life was under heavy public scrutiny. As her husband Nelson Mandela served out his sentence in prison, Winnie took centre stage before the world as the face of the African National Congress, and met with the challenges of a nation under apartheid in addition to those of a woman in a critical political role. Unflinching in her pursuit of progress and rights for the people of South Africa, history still paints a complex portrait of her, one where many questions linger and heated divisions endure to this day. Through archival footage and intimate interviews from her supporters and detractors, including interviews with Winnie herself, this film attempts to unravel the controversies and get a clearer picture of this singular woman who met the extraordinary challenges of a nation in violent transition head on. Gabor Pertic


A wonderful snapshot into a life that captures the essence of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in her moments of success and torment.  One cannot help but feel empowered and humbled by observing Winnie in her fighting youth and her reflective wisdomed present age.  The documentary is hardly an easy watch but will provide you with a thorough examination of Winnie’s legacy.

The Lives of Thérèse

One of France’s most passionate feminist and LGBT activists, Thérèse Clerc was at once an icon of militancy and a woman you wished was your best friend: ardent, funny, sharp, generous. Approaching the end of her life, she asked director Sébastien Lifshitz to witness her final months so she could confront yet another taboo: aging and death. Looking back over a remarkable evolution, the film celebrates the legacy of a life lived to the fullest. Once a typical 50s housewife, Thérèse came out as a lesbian later in life, and relentlessly fought for the legalization of abortion, gender equality and gay rights. She changed so dramatically that her four children feel they all experienced a different mother. A Queer Palm winner at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this tender and graceful portrait is also a lesson in empathetic filmmaking, revealing an exceptionally deep bond between author and subject. Charlotte Selb


A quietly reflective film on a topic we all rather avoid – aging.  Think ‘Amour’ but with a raw frayed texture.  This documentary delves into two areas, one’s own aging and the aging of our parents and loved ones.  Hardly an easy watch but this small documentary contender paints bold strokes into mortality and legacy.  If you are an adult child of a senior parent, this film will remind you that you are not alone.  The want to provide the best support, comfort and peace in the last days or years for your loved one and letting go of past transgressions are common threads throughout the film.

Libera Nos

Claims of Satanic possession are increasing around the world. In meeting the demands of those desperately seeking help, the Catholic Church responds with the solution they’ve employed for centuries: exorcisms. A new wave of exorcist priests is being trained, while veteran Sicilian priest Father Cataldo maintains his stern, diligent practice of the controversial method. His weekly mass is filled with those seeking a cure for the demons they feel they have within them. They cling to the power of their faith as the ultimate source of inner peace but whatever the root of their anguish, its evident many are suffering. It’s here that you start to see the true cost of deliverance. As priests attempt to cast Satan back down, the business of exorcism continues to rise. Gabor Pertic


A controversial film but painted in the most respectful of ways – Libera Nos is what it is.  Full of prayer suffocating demonic rage, we the view the faithful’s suffering at Satan’s feet while also feeling the pull towards saving from Sicilian priest Father Cataldo.  There is no ‘Excorcist’ moments of head spinning, but rather a conversation on what role does mental health play with these individuals and where does Satan intervene.  The viewer has an excellent view into the Catholic Church’s stance, course of study and practice into providing a refuge for their faithful.  Perhaps not a film to watch on Sunday?

www.hotdocs.ca  #hotdocs17, hot docs


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