SFIFF2013: “Leviathan”, “Chimeras” and “Fatal Assistance” – Capsule Reviews and Trailers


Leviathan_02five-starsGet your sea-legs in order before entering this film; they will be tested.

Coming from the director of Sweetgrass (2009)Lucien Castaing-Taylor, and the director of Foreign Parts (2010)Verena Paravel‘, I was expecting an experience nothing less than extraordinary, and that’s precisely what I got. Those fond of floating camera esthetics, like the kind seen in French auteur, Gaspar Noé‘s latest feature-lengths, Irreversible (2002), and Enter The Void (2009), and those fond of the great ever patient eye of the fly on the wall observational documentarian, Frederick WisemanBoxing Gym (2010)Titicut Follies (1967), will no doubt feel right at home amongst the salty air, sea water, seagulls, fish, and fishermen on display here.

Like having just finished swishing about the uncharted twists and turns of the grandest of theme park’s water slides, this engagingly hypnotic out-to-sea surveillance ride had me screaming, “again! again!”

Showtimes for Leviathan: Fri, Apr 26th – 9:30pm (Kabuki)

Sun, Apr 28th – 4:15pm (Kabuki)

Mon, Apr 29th – 8:45pm (PFA – Berkeley)


Chimeras_02three-stars15Wang Guangyi is one of the founding fathers of Chinese contemporary art. Liu Gang is a young 20-something artist quickly garnering worldwide praise for his photographs. Aside from these two both being visionary artists, they both share a common struggle in coming to terms of where China currently sits, where it is heading, and the influence of globalization – specifically from the West – that their country is experiencing more and more rapidly with every passing year.

Ironic than that these issues be brought to light by Mika Mattila, a Finnish director. His juxtapositional observations and restrained look at these two visionary artists is just the tone needed to effectively convey the complexities that come when finding one’s identity, both cultural and personal.

Showtimes for Chimeras: Sat, May 4th – 4:15pm (PFA – Berkeley)

Sun, May 5th – 4:00pm (Kabuki)

Tue, May 7th – 9:00pm (Kabuki)

Fatal Assistance

Fatal_Assistance_02three-stars15Showing yet another shining example of what happens – or I should say doesn’t happen – when your kitchen is filled with too many cooks is Raoul Peck‘s Assistance mortelle, AKA Fatal Assistance. Playing the part of the kitchen is the decimated post-earthquake country of Haiti, and in the role of the cooks we have a mishmash of Governments and organizations, each of course with their own different unknown agenda. Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past three years should know it’s no spoiler to say that fast relief for the Haitian people doesn’t seem to be on the horizon anytime soon.

One could call this film a success based solely on its achievement of raising awareness towards Haiti’s inability to rebuild itself. However, actual facts is one thing, how their presented is another. Due to the importance of the crucial subject matter I’m sure many will overlook the voiceover letter readings (ala PBS’ Civil War documentary style), as well as the repetitive elevator island music. Being subjected to these post-production add-ons was almost as infuriating as learning about the gross injustices happening in Haiti – almost.

Showtimes for Fatal Assistance: Mon, May 6th – 6:30pm (PFA – Berkeley)

Tue, May 7th – 9:15pm (Kabuki)

Wed, May 8th – 6:45pm (Kabuki)


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Categories: Reviews, San Francisco International Film Festival


  1. Filmbalaya’s Guide to SFIFF56 2013 | Filmbalaya.com - April 30, 2013

    […] – “Like having just finished swishing about the uncharted twists and turns of the grandest of theme par…” – […]

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