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AIFF Review: Grit

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Looking for an origin story of a hero? Grit picks up the story a young woman Dian, whose village in East Java—and 15 others—were wiped out 13 years ago by a tidal wave of hot, toxic sludge that had been uncorked by a reckless Indonesian company drilling for natural gas in 2006, killing scores and displacing some 60,000 people. The filmmakers patiently followed her over several years; after the immediate destruction and displacement, Dian’s family were haunted by chronic problems resulting from the industrial catastrophe, like cancer and financial hardship. She personifies the ability to fight back against forces bigger than oneself as she turns that tragedy into strength and a political voice. The film is emotionally stirring, and also visually stunning, with vivid colors set against drab grays of concrete and muddy villages. Likewise, these personal dramas push against massive, ugly global forces of politics and money. Which is all to say, yes, skip Captain Marvel and see what a true life female hero looks and acts like.  

Other films also pick up global stories about immigrants, environmental destruction and bigotry—and bring them into sharp focus on one or two characters. 


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