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North by Current cover image

North by Current 2021

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Grasshopper Film, 12 East 32nd St., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016
Produced by Angelo Madsen Minax and Felix Endara
Directed by Angelo Madsen Minax
Streaming, 85 mins

College - General Adult
Family violence; Gender identity; Social problems

Date Entered: 06/21/2022

Reviewed by Johnnie N. Gray, Technology Services Librarian, Christopher Newport University

An independent film that takes place over several years, examines generational family dynamics. Part of this is the filmmakers own trans identity that, refreshingly, is not the sole focus of the film, but only part of the story of this Michigan family. Assembled with home movies and a child-like narration at times, combined with new footage pushing the narrative. It starts off with the mysterious death of a child that is fleshed out slowly. Grief hovers over this family like a dense fog.

The death of Minax’s toddler niece and the subsequent arrest of the stepfather are only part of the story. Initial physical trauma due to alcoholism and neglect were the cause and still the stepfather is to blame. But was it just his neglect or was it a dysfunctional family dealing with physical and substance abuse? A sister who stays with an abusive husband and continues to have multiple children while struggling with her own issues raises complex questions that are never addressed.

No clear resolution or happy ending, this film is a real examination of one family and their issues. Minax’s Mormon father cannot make eye contact with him in a diner as the sister and mother sit uncomfortably attempting to make small talk. As the parent’s grieve in the loss of their granddaughter, they also grieve for Minax’s former gender. The abusive brother-in-law stops talking for the camera, creating awkward interactions. At times, it can be painful to watch as all family members seem like puzzle pieces that fail to assemble.

An interesting case study of a family and tragedy with a bit of hope. A great film for those studying sociology and LGBTQIA+ filmmakers. A well-executed film on many levels. Suitable for college and adult audiences alike.

Official Selection, Tribeca Festival 2021; New York Times Critic's Pick 2021; 2022 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominee, Truer Than Fiction Award

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