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While introducing Austin Peck and Anneliese Vandenberg’s Tough Bond at Hot Docs this weekend, a programmer called it “powerful.” That’s an adjective we tend to take for granted, especially at a film festival devoted to documentaries, and I accepted the claim for whatever my mind tends to associate with the word. Which might be nothing. Halfway through the film, I wondered what we really mean when we call a film powerful. There are actually a few different possibilities. An orange glue bottle hanging from the mouths of Kenyan street kids like its an extension of their face. That’s an image I’ll never get out of my head, which means its an image with power. And its an image recurring throughout Tough Bond, which focuses on a national problem of huffing and the societal changes leading youths to turn to the intoxicating adhesive. But that doesn’t make the film itself powerful, does it? It’s not as if the filmmakers created this picture of modern Africa. They just recorded it.

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published: 02.01.2015
published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015

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