From the MIFF website
Brazil 80 mins. dir. Petra Costa
“Elena is one of the most moving, heartrending cinematic experiences I’ve ever had. Of unusual beauty, it’s a film we keep turning to for a long time. It’s a must see!” – Walter Salles
Brazilian director Petra Costa turns an inconsolable memory into a decidedly intimate documentary that echoes both Jonathan Caouette’s Tarnation and Ingmar Bergman’s Persona. Costa recounts the story of her older sister, Elena, an ambitious young actress who travels to New York leaving behind years of military dictatorship to pursue a dream once shared by their own mother: to become a movie star.
A sumptuous elegy that also serves as a lyrical homage to family bonds, identity and the transcendental power of art, Elena is almost fictional as it uncovers the delicate, painful and cathartic journey of these women through unconventional interviews, stock footage, home videos, newspapers clippings and ethereal interludes – including an aquatic ballet inspired by Shakespeare’s Ophelia.
Costa’s feature doco debut is a stirring statement on longing, the irreversibility of loss and the pleasure and pain of memory.
“A ghost story, but not in the conventional sense, this haunting visual essay … interweaves its various fragments like gestures in a modern dance.” – Variety