Jason Wiener 6/10/2013
…First up, the most experimental and artistic documentary I’ve seen so far, ELENA. While most documentaries try to give you information, this one is about creating a mood. It’s more like a 82 minute audio-visual poem than what you’d think of as a documentary. But it is based on a true (and very personal) story, so I guess it counts. Elena Costa traveled from Brazil to New York twenty-some years ago, looking to become an actress. He little sister Petra (the director of the movie) was just seven at the time. Her mother always told her she can live anywhere–except New York. And she can be anything–except an actress. So this movie opens with Petra ruminating on that as she arrives at Columbia University to study theater. She talks about how she expects to magically run into Elena on the street, but as their stories blur we learn some shocking things about what happened to Elena. I’m tempted to spoil it…but I won’t. I’m not sure that it matters since (as I said) it’s not a movie about exposing the facts as much as it is about creating a mood. Me revealing the facts still wouldn’t create the mood of melancholy, mystery, and longing. But it’s still a pretty powerful reveal, so I’ll hold on to it and just encourage you to find it yourself. It’s one of those movies where I hate the audience award ballot, because I can’t really process my emotional response quickly enough to vote fairly. I should be able to vote based on what I feel the next day, or next week, or even months later if it’s one of those movies that sticks with me (feels like it might) instead of voting on my immediate ‘I don’t know what to make of that’ response. Read the full article.