EIFF ’19 Review: Bludgeon: Orcas of the Land

Directed by Andy Deere and Ryan Heron, Bludgeon is a documentary which invites the viewer into the fiercely competitive and misunderstood sport of medieval combat in rural New Zealand. Ardently committed to enacting these fantasy battles, players of the sport don antiquated armour and wield handmade swords and battleaxes. Unlike LARPing however, the sport is full contact – players hit hard, and wear costumes weighing almost 30kg. While the film tries to offer insight into the sport and the community who participate in it, what it does instead is covertly invite the audience to laugh at its subjects. 

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EIFF ’19 Review: ‘Sakawa’

Ben Asamoah’s Sakawa follows a group of young Ghanaians, who, facing unemployment and rural poverty, turn to Internet fraud to better themselves. The term ‘Sakawa’ refers to the Ghanaian practice which combines Internet fraud with traditional spiritualist rituals. The Dutch-Ghanaian director manages to capture the intimacy and urgency of this deeply misunderstood subculture, from a compassionate, nonjudgemental gaze. The camera acts as a fly on the wall, hanging back and observing as the group goes about their lives. Through this perspective, the possible tropes of an African developmental narrative are replaced with focused, candid insight. 

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EIFF ’19 Review: ‘The Grizzlies’

Editor’s note: this review contains mentions of suicide, death, trauma.

The Grizzlies opens starkly with a series of black and white school photographs, featuring Indigenous children with cropped hair, wearing school uniforms. These are the victims of Canada’s residential school system, a government-supported initiative to take the children away from their families and way of life, and indoctrinate them. Under this system, children were taken to boarding houses and forced to assimilate into French-Canadian culture and many experienced violent abuse. With such a bleak opening, The Grizzlies asks the viewer to consider the grip of colonialism, and its poisonous legacy on Indigenous communities. 

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