Cannes 2023: Room 999, Anita, In the Rearview | Festivals & Awards

Far more than a simple portrayal of someone tangential to fame, or even some middling cautionary tale about the effects of excess, “Anita” provides a deep, nuanced look at this individual, including her successes and failures. It’s a deeply human look at a remarkable woman and how her story intersected with some of the period’s most powerful and prolific artists.

Finally, there’s “In the Rearview,” Maciek Hamela’s documentary that plays as part of ACID, the indie-film sidebar with more than a few cinematic treats that sometimes go under the radar here in Cannes. Hamela volunteered to shuttle Ukrainians from one part of the country to another, joining volunteer organizations that provided a lifeline for the massive shift in population caused by the Russian invasion. With a series of cinematographers as co-drivers, his car provides a confessional space where these individuals tell their stories.

Some tales are truly harrowing, and some are uplifting; some moments concern things as banal as an escaping cat needing to relieve itself or the everyday Tetris-like challenge of getting all the luggage to fit in the back of a vehicle. Contrast this to heading in one direction only to have a bridge recently blown up, the bypass road a mucky mess where even army vehicles are left stuck in the mire.

The faces change throughout, but the sense of both relief and pain you can see expressed is shared. There are young children now witness to grave horrors who can’t quite make sense of it all, and more elderly passengers who know deeply how traumatic this Exodus truly is. Throughout, Hamela stays out of the story for the most part, allowing his passengers to drive much of the narrative and to truly become the focus of this subtle yet effective film.

As a mode of witnessing the horrors of war, the documentary is both subtle and remarkable, and because of its carefully honed editing and simplistic yet effective structure, we’re granted unique insight into the lives and stories of these individuals too easily thought of as background players in a larger geopolitical struggle. “In the Rearview” lets us see clearly what’s so often obscured. Thanks to the bravery of drivers and passengers alike, we vicariously live through their experiences and appreciate all that’s taking place in the brief moment of the ride. When they exit, a new group enters with their own unique, yet sadly similar, stories of struggle.