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Where Are You Taking Me?

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Where Are You Taking Me?
Directed by Kimi Takesue
March 2 through 8, Anthology Film Archives

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Plying a keen compositional eye, American director Kimi Takesue films a succession of busy scenes from around Uganda's capital, Kampala: Salon patrons get their hair done as an English-language nature doc plays on the television overhead, contestants at a women's weight-lifting competition take their turns at the barbell, and a small audience enjoys the spirited live-dubbing of a Bruce Lee movie. Halfway through, the documentary heads out to the rural Hope North School—and into more direct engagement with the legacy of the country's recent civil war. Takesue includes just enough voiceover for us to gather the background of Hope North's students—"either their parents were killed because of the war, or they were child soldiers"—but mainly observes various peaceable activities on school grounds (English class, dorm tidying, still-life sketching). With its careful attention to the qualities of ambient noise, Where Are You Taking Me? has the feel of an uncommonly perceptive travelogue. The emphasis on the loaded exchanges taking place between the filmmaker and her subjects, though, reveals something more complex. "Where are you taking us?" asks a Kampala shoe merchant early on about the ultimate destination of his recorded image, and later, a former child soldier addresses the camera with a similar, more pointedly posed question. Takesue doesn't presume to tell anyone's story for him or her, but rather lets the activity on-screen speak for itself.

 
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