TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘Walls’

Posted in TIFF 2023 by - September 08, 2023
TIFF 2023: Our Review of ‘Walls’

Up in the air on a two seater glider, Kasia Smutniak talks to her co-pilot about migrants crossing from Belarus or the Ukraine into Poland. Her co-pilot asks if she’s a journalist and reminds him that no, she’s just telling him what she read in the newspaper.

That was a little white lie, because Smutniak is actually a documentary filmmaker, finding ways, including this gliding trip, to see the wall that Poland is trying to build on its borders to keep refugees out.

With her debut feature, Walls, Smutniak, for the most part, faces her subject head on. The main storyline here captures five straight days when she joins activists and journalists trying to see the wall that the Polish government is constructing.

If I have one nitpick here, and it’s a big one, it’s that the film almost comes close to capturing *who* the border is keeping out. Instead of seeing them, they’re topics of conversation for the activists doing their best to help them.

Otherwise, Smutniak is capable of juggling a lot of elements in an otherwise straightforward documentary. Her camera captures her bravery without being self serving. There’s the occasional flashback, as she talks to some activists who aren’t in the border also trying to help.

There’s also some levity here. She tries to show ‘the other side’ of the story, as the army escorts her to interview the people living in the border towns. One of the them curses the army, reflecting the country’s sentiment.

This post was written by
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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