(March 1, 2017 – Toronto ON) It may seem ironic that a woman who lived with a family curse of blindness chose to capture images for a living. But Chilean-Canadian filmmaker Maria Teresa Larraín jokes that she simply “forgot” about the risk.
But Shadow Girl, her personal chronicle of discovery inspired by the loss of her sight, is a memorable depiction of a world beyond our eyes.
After a period of lonely depression, Larrain – who began to lose her sight while editing her last film in Toronto – was compelled to rejoin society with the death of her mother in her native Chile. The prodigal daughter returned to Santiago after 30 years away and discovered a society of blind street vendors of La Alameda.
The encounter with a spirited, kindred community – one that had to overcome, not just blindness, but theft and police harassment – launched Larrain further on her personal journey.
A moving, point-of-view travelogue, Shadow Girl takes the viewer along with Larrain as she reconnects with a brother who shares the family blindness, and absorbs the fading image of her grandchildren when she visits her son in Costa Rica.
Her road is full of challenges, including palliative eye surgery that is graphically filmed. The result is a visual elegy for lost sight, and for the commitment to persevere.
“The hardest thing in this film has not been shooting with very low vision but to find my point of view as a director – my blind gaze,” Larrain said.
“The blind gaze is a different way to look and see, a different way to apprehend reality. The blind gaze is a different way to look at ourselves, at the world and at each other. It goes beyond blindness. We are much more than our eyes.”
Shadow Girl was named Best Documentary in 2016 by the Circle of Chilean Critics; Best National Film, Audience Award, Documentary of the Month Award and Hackathon Award at DocsBarcelona Valparaiso; Best National Film, Best Directing and Best Sound Award at DIVA (Diversity International Film Festival Valparaiso; Audience Award at Fidocs (Santiago International Film Festival); Best National Film at Fedochi (Chile International Film Festival); Special Jury Mention at Festival Film Dokumenter Yogakarta, Indonesia and was given an Award of Excellence at IndieFest.
There will be a special screening of Shadow Girl at Toronto’s Revue Cinema at 4:00PM, Sunday, March 12. Filmmaker Maria Teresa Larrain and special guests will be in attendance and there will be a Q&A following the screening.