Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"Although never less than immersive, the documentary suffers from Solnicki's freeform approach, which has a tendency to lack context"

Emotional skeletons in the closet form the crux of Gastón Solnicki's 10-year documentation of his Jewish-Argentine family. If nothing else, Solnicki's relatives deserve some sort of personal award for letting his camera into virtually every corner of their lives over the decade.

At the heart of the family - and the hub of the film - is the director's dad Victor. Although he has lived almost all of his life in Argentina, the film gradually reveals that he bears the lasting psychological effects of his parents' flight from Poland during the Second World War, gently probing ideas of loss and displacement. Revelations about the song Papirosen, which he says always makes him cry, and the death of his father - whom he poignantly tells his livewire grandson "died of sadness" - cut deep in their intimacy. Also captured on camera is Victor's world weary mum, Pola, who recalls her early life in Poland and the first years in Argentina.

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More concerned with the here an now are the director's sister, whose marriage begins to crumble as we watch, and his mother Mirta, who sufferers Solnicki's intrusion least readily - "Had I known," she tells him at one point "I wouldn't have bought you the camera."

Solnicki mixes his own home video footage with Super 8 film taken by other members of the family, stretching back to the Sixties, to paint a portrait of their lives. The Solnicki clan are, like almost all families, a product of their history. Although never less than immersive, the documentary suffers from Solnicki's free-form approach, which has a tendency to lack context. Often we wish he would linger more on certain subjects or probe his family further about their memories and aspirations. In the end, although they are pleasant people to while away an hour or so with, the picture feels frustratingly partial.

Reviewed on: 06 Jul 2012
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Papirosen packshot
Documentary studies the lives and memories of four generations of Solnickis.
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Director: Gastón Solnicki

Year: 2011

Runtime: 74 minutes

Country: Argentina, USA


EIFF 2012

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