Hot Docs Wednesday

Cowboys in Kosovo (Netherlands, Director: Corinne van Egeraat) — The director’s Albanian friend from Kosovo had fled to Amsterdam when the war broke out, but his brothers and cousins stayed, and now, years later, she returns with him to act out their childhood dream: to play cowboys in a movie. Kosovo’s landscape is remarkably similar to that seen in a lot of old Westerns, and once the brothers don their chaps and ten-gallon hats, it’s pure play as they re-enact scenes from their favourite Westerns, such as The Magnificent Seven and Shane. Interspersed are their recollections about the war and how toy guns and real guns are very different. (8/10)

Putin’s Mama (Netherlands, Director: Ineke Smits) — Vera is an incredibly sharp 77-year old who’s convinced that the son she sent to live with her parents at age 10 has grown up to become Russia’s president. She is so heartfelt in her wish for him to come and visit, and her story seems so plausible, that by the end, I was convinced. So rather than this being a story about a possible crackpot, it became for me a fascinating character study of a strong Russian woman who married a Georgian and “became a peasant.” The village life is richly portrayed and I found myself wondering along with Vera why Vladimir doesn’t come to visit his mama in this colourful place. (9/10)

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