HotDocs 2018 Review – PRIMAS

PRIMAS begins almost exactly like your standard-narrative based coming-of-age drama. Our subject is lying down in a beach, seemingly asleep and very clearly angst-ridden as we see her in scenes to follow. This quirky feeling doesn’t last for long though as we find out said subject is one of two cousins that bond over something horrifying that happened in their younger years. They were both victims of sexual assault. One of the girls was abused by her father, and the other was tortured and nearly burned alive after the fact. As you can already assume, PRIMAS is a very heavy watch.

Throughout the film we become incredibly close with these two beautiful and abundantly tough subjects as they attempt to overcome their brutal and traumatic pasts. There is one scene, at least a few minutes in length, that features the subjects describing their own attacks in shockingly descriptive detail and leaving no detail spared. This scene, like many others, can be quite triggering and saddening to watch. Thankfully, documentarian Laura Bari still remains tasteful to the incredibly delicate subject matter and to the subjects she is documenting.

Bari has more eye-opening statements about society than just the damaging effects of domestic sexual violence. Within conversations or the surrounding areas you can also pickup on what it means to be a woman living with deformities, self-image and victim-shaming. Nearly all of these topics are very briefly gazed over, but they add another layer onto the constantly expanding tower the film builds inside of your brain. Questions lead to answers and those answers lead to more questions. For this documentary it creates a slow but sure love for the film that expands with time.

To put it briefly, PRIMAS this is a film that steals your heart at the beginning but gives it back to with apologies and regret by the very end. Seeing the optimism in these girls, even after but subjected to something so traumatic and brutal, is life-affirming at the very least. Whether it be through a portion of a play that’s accompanied with pleasantly crisp and equally as surreal sound design and narration, or from a conversation with a longtime doctor, these ladies just won’t give up their courageousness for anyone. They are defining what it means to be human in the face of life’s deepest troubles and if that isn’t commendable, I don’t know what is.

Rating: 9/10

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