Kyle Cubr reviews “From the Other Side” on Cine-File Chicago playing at Block Cinema

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Of the late Chantal Akerman’s greatest strengths as a filmmaker are her eye for outdoor shot composition and the ability to create a compelling story from the lives of ordinary people, and in so providing a platform for those whose voices would otherwise not be heard. In FROM THE OTHER SIDE, Akerman explores the U.S.-Mexico border, including those that live nearby as well as those who work there. In these discordant times where xenophobia and nationalism have reemerged in the collective American consciousness, Akerman’s film, perhaps now more than ever, elegantly humanizes all sides involved in the U.S. border debate. This humanization seeks to highlight the struggles faced in the name of wanting to create a better life for oneself on a personal, communal, and national level. OTHER SIDE is an exercise in minimalism, especially with its recurrent landscape shots along the boundary (both static and sweeping) that invoke the very nature of what barriers are and how they can be torn down to unite. Part journalism, part video essay, and part investigation, this revisit to a time during the most previous Republican president’s administration’s intercontinental, foreign policy and its effects on those directly involved displays both the resentment and benevolence of the human spirit.

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