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TIFF 2020: “Notturno”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Every time when I promise not to watch documentaries like “For Osama”, “The Cave”, “The White Helmets” or “Of Fathers and Sons”, I still end up doing it. Because not seeing them means I’m deliberately avoiding witnessing what we are as human beings when we live in an unchecked society.

We no longer have to assume what greed and absolute power can do to people. In a corrupt environment, vicious beings are like fourth stage cancer – they penetrate into the system, kill all the cells of kindness in the society to turn it into tyranny. “Notturno”, a documentary shot over the past three years along the borders of Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and Lebanon, captures the loneliness and hopelessness in people as they hope to see their loved ones released from the ISIS camp. In the meantime, children share their experience of torture, death and sadness.

One of the most heartbreaking scenes is when a woman has tears coming down her eyes from listening to the voice messages of her daughter who, we assume, could not make it. Another one was when a boy talks to his teacher to describe what happened to him while in captivity – stories of burned feet or how the ISIS terrorists would just beat them up for no reason or, perhaps, to entertain themselves.

All these are not easy to watch or comprehend. As one part of the world still suffers because of racism, another part bleeds to death because of incompetent politicians who somehow overlook what happened in the war-torn Syria. Director Gianfranco Rosi’s approach is unapologetic as he captures the innocence of children and their heavily damaged souls. Indeed, everyone is a victim of a war. But will a hero arise to stop it? Sadly, the history of humankind has proven – there is none.

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