Birds Eye View Film Festival 2014: Review Roundup

by Mairéad Roche on 16/04/2014

Gabrielle 1

Our coverage of the excellent Birds Eye View Film Festival 2014 is brought to a close by this selection of reviews by Mairéad Roche. Reviews of I am Yours, Belleville Baby and Gabrielle are below… Mairéad was really bonkers for Canadian film Gabrielle so a scene from that film is pictured above, she gave it five torches of truth – have a look see.

I Am Yours (Dir. & Writer Iram Haq)

Writer and director Iram Haq’s debut feature film I Am Yours mines her own experiences as a second generation Pakistani immigrant in Norway for her lead character Mina (Amrita Acharia).

Living in Oslo, Mina is a young divorced single mother to son Felix (Prince Singh) caught between the demands of her highly conservative, traditional parents and her own aspirations as a budding actress in liberal Norway. Neither accepted through her family or profession, Mina undermines her own resolve to live an independent life by ignoring her needs and responsibilities with the prospect of a romantic relationship with Jesper (Ola Rapace), a film maker living in Stockholm. Clinging to the hope of a lasting, successful love with Jesper, Mina’s lack of self worth becomes exposed more and more throughout the film.

Haq’s direction of the marvellous performance by Acharia, soars far beyond the financial constraints of this low-budget film producing a compassionate, but raw portrayal of a young woman struggling with self-sabotage and second generation immigrant confusion.

Rating: four Torches of Truth

Belleville Baby (Dir. Mia Engberg)

Swedish film maker Mia Engberg creates a film that weaves impressions of memories and the concept of memory in and of itself through re-told or re-created phone conversations between herself and her first great love Vincent (voiced by Oliver Desautel).

Having not been in contact for ten years, the former lovers begin to slowly work through their shared memories of their time together in France, finding surprising holes in each other’s recollections along with the tensions within their relationship that caused their break up. With Vincent speaking in French and Mia’s narration in Swedish, Engberg often distorts her camera work in an impressionistic way to give the feeling of a memory rather than a solid image. Vincent and Mia share  short amateur clips to explain each other’s lives as they are now, without directly facing each other. The film feels more akin to an art installation as for substantial inter cut sections of the film, the audience has a black screen with subtitles to read while we listen to Vincent and Mia talking on the phone.

The bond that once tied them together and that made them who they are now is considered during the film, with the dance of old lovers attracting Vincent and Mia to each other to prove that their memories are real. Deceptively documentarian in approach, Belleville Baby taps in nicely to many of our own personal memories of the intensity of a first love that didn’t last.

Rating: three Torches of Truth

Gabrielle (Dir. Louise Archambault)

Set in Montréal, director and co-writer Louise Archambault has captured young love with the back drop of a choral group which will crescendo in a final performance that delightfully manages to navigate a tightrope of possible clichés to create the lightening-in-a-bottle magic that is Gabrielle .

Gabrielle (Gabrielle Marion-Rivard) is surrounded by loving family, especially in the form of her sister Sophie Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin and her friends living a life full of the joy of music and a job she enjoys. A talented singer, warm and joyous, Gabrielle begins to slowly fall in love with her fellow choir member Martin (Alexandre Landry) who feels the same. However, unlike other 22 year olds, Gabrielle has Williams Syndrome which is a genetic condition causing learning impairment but a high level of sociability and musical skill. As with their fellow choir members – the real life choir Les Muses – Martin also has learning impairments. With Sophie fighting for Gabrielle’s independence while simultaneously not dealing with her own long distance relationship, the practicalities of Gabrielle and Martin’s supported lives are stifling their rights, as adults, to embrace an adult relationship in all its forms and implications.

Archambault induces a deeply relatable and emotional connection with the film, filled with unpatronising sensitivity, dignity and a wondrous infectious joie-de-vivre. The performances of the group, are heart warming and at no point trite. The final on-stage concert is heart warming and life assuring. This is a true gem of a film seamlessly uniting the talents of both actors without and with (so-called) impairments never shirking the realities of the characters.

Rating: five Torches of Truth

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