“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
Director – The Motorcycle Diaries

“ELENA is a rare cinematic experience. This is due to both the depth with which it engages the emotional relationships among the 3 characters and the poetic delicacy of its textures, sounds, and text. It’s like a string that unravels before us and suddenly we’re trapped in a knot with no way out. But time or life itself takes on transforming what was tragedy into memory, undoing the knot and letting life flow again. It’s a film that generates 60 insights a minute.”

Fernando Meirelles
Director – City of God

“ELENA is such a film. At its core, is the tragic event of a life too early interrupted. Those alive are disrupted. The film puts the pieces back together, to the extent that this is possible, which is to say, imperfectly. There is no naïve belief in closure, in the ability of art to restore the wholeness that existed before the drama. Quite the opposite, I believe. Through the film, what is sought is a way to come to terms with the irreversibility of death, learning to live with what we will miss, always. If there is no neat conclusion, tied with a bow, neither is there prostration, for we’ve got to keep on living– and if possible, once in a while, dancing, as in the last scene. This uplifting realism, this desire to find happiness despite everything, is what lingers and makes a film about death able to affirm life so strongly.

The final impression is that Petra, the director and sister, made and was made by the film, a bit like that image of the hand that draws another hand and is in turn drawn by it. Without the director, Elena would not exist; without ELENA, my impression is that the director would be sadder, her life trapped in unrelenting grief. She would also be spiritually poorer, not having undergone the experience of having made one of the most beautiful films I’ve seen in a long time.”

João Moreira Salles
Director – Santiago

“Elena is a beautiful piece of work; elegant, poetic, visually stunning, and viscerally moving.”

Tim Robbins
Actor – The Shawshank Redemption

“A haunting visual essay. ELENA interweaves its various fragments like gestures in a modern dance.”


“The filmmaker sets out for New York in search of her actress sister, who she hasn’t seen since childhood. Memory, loss and yearning mingle dreamily in this striking elegy.”


“Astounding and lyrical.”

Filmmaker Magazine

“One of the most beautiful Brazilian documentaries in the past few years.”

Folha de São Paulo
Brazilian Newspaper

“ELENA speaks about losses with rare talent and courage. It echoes strongly inside us, it is pain that cures pain.”

O Globo
Brazilian Newspaper

“A film I’d like to have done. I got goosebumps several times because it is a film about grief and incomprehension of death. And death should not exist.”

Ignácio de Loyola Brandão
Brazilian Writer

 “First, there are three women intermingled. Then, there is search and separation. Elena is now memory. And memory is a living house. ELENA is one of the most beautiful documentaries I have ever seen.”

Eliane Brum
Brazilian journalist and documentary filmmaker

“Petra manages to tell a personal story with a universal appeal – and she does it by using a collection of extremely moving documentary images (Elena’s dances, her return to Belo Horizonte) alongside original and striking scenes (such as the women floating in their transparent dresses).”

Zeca Camargo
Brazilian journalist

The first of the many merits of Petra Costa’s film is not having related Elena’s depression—which undoubtedly influenced her final choices—to her talent and sensitivity. The actress is remembered in all her generosity and charisma despite and not because of her problems. ELENA celebrates what comes before and outlives death: the harsh beauty of love which has undergone the hardest of tests.”

Michel Laub
Brazilian writer


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