Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘Calls From Moscow’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2023, Movies by - April 26, 2023
Hot Docs 2023: Our Review of ‘Calls From Moscow’

Luis Alejandro Yero’s Calls From Moscow captures the city’s unlikely inhabitants, four queer men running away from the homophobic regime in Cuba. Some of them want to stay in Moscow while others use it as their entryway to The Game – a route where immigrants and refugees go from Moscow to the Balkans to safter countries like Germany. Depending on their final destination, Moscow is the most sedate of all. All these subjects do is look out their windows or lie on the couch of the apartment that all of them will use during their stay. None of these men meet.

Calls From Moscow does its best to depict this state of limbo, as these subjects perpetually wait for their next step. It seems as if all of them are spiritually still, if not moving backward. They may be in Russia but most of the dialogue is in Spanish, as the subjects call people about things like their exes. Style here exists in a synthesiser score highlighting these subjects’ alienation, if not doing so too strongly. The pace here isn’t a problem, although it may be for some viewers just because of its sparing, if not outright obscure storytelling methods.

One of the things that Calls From Moscow successfully does is capture a certain immigrant experience where said immigrants live an insular lifestyle. The documentary also explains why these subjects are often in their apartments. But it also explains, through these calls, that one of these men work a construction job. Keeping these men in the same setting during its 63 minute is an understandable artistic decision but one that makes the documentary fall apart. It suspends viewers’ disbelief, which is surprising for a documentary. At one point I had my doubts as to whether these men were actually in Russia.

  • Release Date: 4/28/2023
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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches 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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