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Hot Docs 2019: “Scheme Birds” (2018) ★★★★★


Watching documentaries is always a joy no matter how harsh its subject can be. I find myself often promising to watch no more documentaries. Yet, I always break it. Because, as a writer, as an owner of this website, I am responsible to keep you informed about the things you may not know otherwise. Always remember, we have to learn from something or from someone. We must continue to educate ourselves by watching the lives of people we may never meet in person but the input will make you feel as if you have. Because the only thing we have is our mind which can testify the reality we should be able to modify accordingly.

Gemma is the same as many other teenagers but was not so lucky to live in an area in Scotland that used to thrive years ago, but is now a dark place with no future. She always fights. “Scheme Birds” centers around people surrounding her – her grandpa who raised her after being abandoned by her mother, her boyfriend Pat who seems to be trying to finds his ground but not hard enough to settle, her neighbor J.P for whom life will play out differently in order to realize why it can’t be wasted, and his girlfriend who has her own journey to make. The film offers four different lives from the same place that will play out very differently – just like life itself.

I have never seen a documentary that would be so focused on its subjects, following their path, even the dark ones to unveil their best sides, capture their struggle, and more importantly how they learn (not always) from the mistakes they made. When we meet Gemma, oh, trust me, you would cross the street as soon as you notice her from a distance. She is amazingly straightforward and not too selective with the words she uses to communicate. She drinks and hangs out with Pat and overall seems not too worried about what may happen in the future. But she changes over the course of time when she gets pregnant. When Gemma becomes more responsible after becoming a mother, every gesture of her, every action of her, everything she says will amaze you and may bring you to tears. Because she realizes that she is no longer alone – and what she does will directly impact her child whom she adores a lot.

Gemma is a perfect character that should have been told in every movie. She has that personality we must look, analyze and credit for. She is extremely strong, determined, passionate, and inspiring. Of course, who she was in the beginning and who became towards the end is what we people must concentrate on. As we watch her, we know right away she is unbreakable but it is because it was her choice. No matter what life she led, the area she grew up in, the poverty she only knew, this young woman finds the strength many in her situation were unable to.

This is why “Scheme Birds” is crucial for everyone to watch. Because by meeting Gemma, or J.P., or his girlfriend, you believe impossible things could happen. Yes, Pat, of course, is not the best example to follow but he is one of those we should always remember as somebody who failed to change his life. But Gemma was not like that. And seeing her, knowing her, and growing with her, I doubt you would expect from her anything less. That said, if you are looking for something to be inspired, or are feeling bad about your day or do not feel fulfilled about yourself as a whole, then you must certainly watch “Scheme Birds” to learn that nothing is impossible and so many things are doable. But what we cannot do is wait. Remember, the necessary action taken at that this very moment can change everything – same as Gemma, which is truly incredible.

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