Hot Docs 2022: Our Review of ‘Alis’

Posted in Hot Docs 2022 by - May 08, 2022
Hot Docs 2022: Our Review of ‘Alis’

Documentaries, like most genres that evince some semblance of realism, show us the homes and lives of people who are less fortunate than most viewers. Alis shows, specifically, a glimpse into the lives of Colombians, most of them girls, some of them in the 2LGBT+ community, who live in a group home. This does something different though, in that while interviewing these residents, they ask them to imagine a new resident bearing the same name as this documentary. The directors took five years to make this documentary, which is enough time to build trust with the residents, which shows.

Alis mixes up those interviews with shots of the home, sometimes long shots, at others medium, sometimes empty, at others with a few of the residents scattered around. It lets viewers imagine what those spaces would be like with Alis in them, how the residents would or would not interact with them. The glimpses of the residents’ lives are just that. It doesn’t follow them enough to show their drama or friendships. It’s vague without being obtuse. This way, the only way we can find out about these residents is through Alis what they think her past life is like.

Something interesting happens here, where Alis becomes a version of these residents and the residents in turn become the best friend they never had, the kind of friend they probably don’t even have at the home. It feels like an obvious premise but Alis shows how much all of this means to the residents, to have someone to root for because there are less people who root for them. And again, the glimpses of their lives at the home are equally compelling. Even menial tasks like distributing laundry show so much about the kind of camaraderie that these residents have.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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