Familia (2010)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB

Sweden2010.  Månharen Film & Television, Swedish Film Institute, Ventana Film.  Screenplay by Alberto Herskovits, Mikael Wistrom. Cinematography by Alberto Herskovits.  Produced by Mikael Wistrom.  Music by .  Film Editing by Alberto Herskovits, Mikael Wistrom.  

Devastating documentary that sees directors Alberto Herskovits and Mikael Wistrom following the Barrientos family for the third time in Wistrom’s cinematic career. Having moved up slightly in the world into a small house (the film shows photos and footage from earlier films when they basically lived in a garbage dump), the Barrientos are still devastatingly poor, a crime considering that mom  works regularly, as does her daughter, and dad Daniel drives a motorcycle taxi. Seeing an opportunity to make a little more money for themselves, Nati takes a job working illegally in Spain, rending her family in two when the distance proves to be far more difficult than anyone had imagined. The film’s situations sometimes come across as contrived; one wonders if Herskovits and Wistrom haven’t set these people up before rolling the cameras, but at the same time the individuals on film are incredibly sympathetic and moving.  It doesn’t capture the worst experiences of migrant workers (it isn’t as scary as El Norte, for example) but it does touch upon a very important issue considering the amount of cheap labour that is exploited in the world today. Nati is the film’s focus and its most indelible asset; hardened, emotional but always patient and wise, she arrives in Madrid and, rather than focusing on her own plight, is incredibly moved by the desperation of other immigrants she sees in the city. One wonders what a woman with such a personality could do were she in possession of more power. This one’s a wonderful experience.


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