SF Docfest 2012: Capsule Reviews – “Herman’s House” and “The World Before Her”

Herman’s House

Herman is an imprisoned man who has spent an incredibly ridiculous amount of time unjustly locked in solitary confinement.  Jackie is an artist, who after attending a lecture on solitary confinement, was inspired to do something for someone living under those conditions.  She wrote a letter to Herman, thus starting a long-lasting and life-changing relationship.  Being that Jackie is an artist she went about helping Herman the way she knows best, through art.  Her idea, was to construct Herman’s dream house, as meticulously described to her by Herman.  In forgoing such a daunting task, irreversible bonds are formed and inspirations from others are discovered.  Even though I still think the ending – don’t worry, I’m not going to give it away – was a bit abrupt, I still would have a hard time finding much fault in Angad Bhalla‘s finely put together documentary.

Showtimes for Herman’s House:

Sat, Nov. 10 – 7:15pm (Roxie Theatre) & Sun, Nov. 11 – 12:30pm (Roxie Theatre)

The World Before Her

The sign of a good social/political documentary is when the discussed topic(s), of which I know little about before watching, stay with me for the entire week after the closing credits have come and gone.  The sign of an outstanding social/political documentary is when it is able to illuminate broader issues than just the ones discussed within the movie, and continue to resonate within me well after the credits have rolled, making me want to re-watch it sooner than later.  The World Before Us is an outstanding documentary.

This polarizing movie is about the roles in which females play in both India’s present and future, and the contradictory way in which these women live their lives.  Through the careful direction of Nisha Pahuja we’re shown two viewpoints as to where India is perceived to be heading, and just like a good documentary should, equal time is focused on both positions.  On the one side there’s Durga Vahini, a member of the Hindu fundamentalist movement who is vehemently opposed to those women who find opportunities and their voice through India’s beauty pageant.  And on the other side, there’s the voice of those within the beauty pageant scene.

If, sadly you wind up missing this at DocFest, do yourself a favor and seek it out elsewhere.  It is one not to be missed.

Showtimes for The World Before Her:

Sat, Nov. 10 – 2:45pm (Roxie Theatre) & Sun, Nov. 11 – 5:00pm (Shattuck, Berkeley) & Tue, Nov. 13 – 9:30pm (Roxie Theatre)


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