TIFF Next Wave ’21: Our Review of ‘My Name is Baghdad’

TIFF Next Wave ’21: Our Review of ‘My Name is Baghdad’

Set in Sao Paolo, My Name is Baghdad tells the story of Tatiana (better known as Baghdad). She’s a young skateboarder struggling to find her place in a noxious male world. However, Baghdad she finally meets a group of female skateboarders. That meeting changes her life as she discovers comraderie amongst her new found peers.

My Name is Baghdad is the second feature by Cara Alves de Silva (2013’s Underage). It is a beautiful exploration of growing into one’s femininity in a space of toxicity and male oppression. Using a bleached colour palette that leans into the dry heat, De Silva visually accentuates the stresses of urban Brazil. This is not a place of celebration but a world where tensions run high. What’s more, for a first-time star, Grace Orsato brings an incredible amount of maturity to the role of the Baghdad. Imbuing her character with strength and courage, Orsato has a fire in her soul that lights up the screen.

At its heart, Baghdad speaks to the soul of belonging. Passionate about her life as a skateboarder, Baghdad is an anomaly in a typically masculine sport. However, when she discovers a group of female boarders, Baghdad finally finds a place of safety and belonging that empowers her femininity. In these moments, she feels as though her gender can be celebrated, as opposed to something to be contained by others.

There’s a beauty to My Name is Baghdad that recognizes the value of the individual while also empowering a group who have been held back. Anchored by an incredible performance by Orsato, de Silva’s coming-of-age story does more than just skate by. Instead, it serves as a reminder that the soul of gender is not decided by broken social traditions but by empowering the spirits of the oppressed.

Steve Norton
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Born at a very early age, Steve is a Toronto-based writer and podcaster who loves to listen to what matters to our culture on screen. When he first saw Indiana Jones steal the cross of Coronado, he knew his world would never be the same and, since then, he’s found more and more excuses to digest what’s in front of him onscreen. Also, having worked as a youth and community minister for almost 20 years, he learned that stories help everyone engage the world around them. He’s a proud hubby, father (x2) and believes that Citizen Kane, Batman Forever (yes, the Kilmer one), and The Social Network belong in the same conversation. You can hear his ramblings on ScreenFish Radio wherever podcasts are gettable or at his website, ScreenFish.net.
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