Skip to main content

ELENA

Brazil, 2012 (MIFF 2013, Documentaries)

Director: Petra Costa

"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

Brazilian director Petra Costa turns an inconsolable memory into a decidedly intimate documentary that echoes both Jonathan Caouette's Tarnation and Ingmar Bergman's Persona. Costa recounts the story of her older sister, Elena, an ambitious young actress who travels to New York leaving behind years of military dictatorship to pursue a dream once shared by their own mother: to become a movie star.

A sumptuous elegy that also serves as a lyrical homage to family bonds, identity and the transcendental power of art, Elena is almost fictional as it uncovers the delicate, painful and cathartic journey of these women through unconventional interviews, stock footage, home videos, newspapers clippings and ethereal interludes - including an aquatic ballet inspired by Shakespeare's Ophelia.

Costa's feature doco debut is a stirring statement on longing, the irreversibility of loss and the pleasure and pain of memory.

"A ghost story, but not in the conventional sense, this haunting visual essay … interweaves its various fragments like gestures in a modern dance." - Variety

D Petra Costa P Busca Vida Filmes S Petra Costa, Carolina Ziskind WS Wide House L Portuguese w/English subtitles TD 35mm/2012

See also...

H LIO OITICICA

"In Hélio Oiticica, the nephew of a Brazilian artist follows the steps of his uncle, who is called Brazil's Andy Warhol. The experimentations by a free spirit who died young are an archival ... More »

BUS 174

On June 12, 2000—Brazil's Valentine's Day—Sandro do Nascimento held up a bus in Rio de Janeiro's largest public park in broad daylight, taking the passengers hostage.Television crews ... More »

THE LITTLE PRINCE’S RAP

Winner of every major film prize in its home country and selected for over a dozen Festivals worldwide. This hard-hitting documentary parallels the lives of two young men who have chosen very ... More »

MAORI BOY GENIUS

“Pietra Brettkelly may well be profiling New Zealand's future Prime Minister.” - Variety ... In Maori Boy Genius Pietra Brettkelly (The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins, MIFF 08) explores the life ... More »

THIS AIN'T CALIFORNIA

Skateboarding becomes a metaphor for freedom in this prize-winning love letter to the subversive power of youth. ... East Germany in the 80s. For three teens - Nico, Dirk and Dennis - life in the GDR ... More »

ACT OF KILLING, The

"Powerful, surreal and frightening … unprecedented in the history of cinema." – Werner Herzog ... In this bizarre and unsettling film, Joshua Oppenheimer presents a chilling picture ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director