TIFF 2021: “Leave No Traces”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Systemic oppression, military order, corruption, and murder are parts of any authoritarian regime. No one dares to go against it. To expect the weak and vulnerable to fight against the strong and powerful is like a fantasy that would never happen in real life. And if it did, the one who dared won’t get a chance to live a long life.

Directed by Jan P. Matuszyński, “Leave No Traces” follows the famous case or Grzegorz Przemyk, a high school student beaten to death by militia. The only witness, Jurek, was turned into an enemy of the state: followed, arrested and interrogated unfairly. The oppressive system used all the tools available in their hands to ensure those who killed the student will go unpunished.

The film captures the full length of cover-ups, and search for a scapegoat to make sure the militia is left unpunished. The psychological trauma and emotional pain will grow each minute, while the indifferent and senseless system will look for a compromise, something that can silence a key witness and the mother of the victim, poet Barbara Przemyk.

There is no joy watching “Leave No Trace”. As the title suggests, military officers beat a man to death and ensure there is no trace left by attacking the abdomen and damaging his liver. It’s an appalling and heartbreaking story that the director was able to translate onto the silver screen. It’s the full display of a man who did his best to provide the full truth, and the disgraceful system that decided to ignore the truth they swore to protect.

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