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Smoke Sauna Sisterhood 18

Anna Hints, Estonia, France, Iceland, 2023, 89m.

In the darkness of smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences. Through a sense of communion, women wash off the shame trapped in their bodies and regain their strength. The first documentary by an Estonian director to compete and win at Sundance, Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is a deeply moving, intimate and breathtaking approach to issues of trauma, healing, and community.

The Garden Cinema View:

It is a tactile pleasure and a spiritual privilege to step in Anna Hints’ sauna space. Although abutting visual ethnography and artist’s moving image, this is a fantastically compelling documentary that invites audiences into an intimate space of honesty and healing. Hints frames her subjects in extreme close-ups, the camera always moving at a glacial step. This obscuration of these bodies never feels abstract but instead envelops you into this community. In fact the camera often searches out and finds the faces of the listeners, releasing an acute sense of empathy that extends into the cinema space (also dark, also inviting). A brief and simple film that transcends to something rather unique.

Kadi Kivilo

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