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Hot Docs 2020: “Trouble” ★★★


How much can we learn from our estranged parents? It is true that sometimes it’s worth taking a trip back in time by asking questions that can help us get into the era we want.

“Trouble”, directed by Mariah Garnett, follows the filmmaker’s attempt to reconnect with her father who she’s only seen once when she was just two. As she travels to Vienna, she learns a lot from him, including how he grew up in Belfast, his involvement in the Troubles, the People’s Democracy movement of the Northern Island, how he would attend most of the protests, and even the love story with a Catholic girl that prompted BBC in 1971 to make a documentary about him. Indeed, Mariah Garnett will have a lot to grasp, so will you, through her journey.

It all starts with Garnett’s journey as she documents herself along with her newly found family. When she is already In Vienna, her father warmly welcomes her. As he begins telling her his reasons why he had to flee Ireland to never return, he finds himself astonished by an old video shown by Garnett to him, broadcasted on BBC. As she decides to recreate his past journey in Belfast, she takes her camera, casts an actor as his girlfriend, and begins passing one street after another to uncover the past by making it known not to only herself but to the audience too.

The most interesting and touching thing about this film is the bond Garnett builds with her father, David as if they had never been separated. For some, this may not be as interesting or intriguing, but as you watch Mariah Garnett’s film, you grow to respect her more, her reasons, and even the achievements she makes towards the end of the film. That alone is admirable, and through “Trouble”, we get a history lesson. We even get two see two individuals reunited and the impact it leaves on them, which I am sure, will last as long as the world itself.

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