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ÊXTASE: Review (MoMA DocFortnight 2021)

ÊXTASE | © MoMA DocFortnight 2021

By Lee Romero

Documentaries as a whole are strings of consciousness. An art to inform. To educate. To provoke evolving thoughts. But what if they drastically try to take your morals and/or ideals, flip them, and make you see them from a different perspective?

Directed, co-produced, and written by Moara Passoni, co-produced Petra Costa (THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY), alongside an unsettling and electrifying soundtrack by David Lynch and Lykke Li, ÊXTASE is an intense exploration of the agony and paradoxical pleasure of anorexia set against the backdrop of the chaotic political landscape of Brasil in the 1990s.

In Clara’s life, the personal and political are intertwined. She lives with her parents in the outskirts of São Paulo that is slowly being taken over by organized crime. As her mother becomes a congresswoman in Brasilia, her family moves to the Federal District. There as Clara feels her mother’s life is increasingly imperilled, she descends into a downward spiral of self-destruction in which suffering has a life force. That force: the less she eats, the more power and energy Clara feels she has.

In one of the harshest displays of personal power and body imaging, ÊXTASE pulls zero punches as it brilliantly balances a seesaw of personal journey and attempt to control surroundings of brutal existence. Immersive and engaging, Passoni is truly a radical, visionary filmmaker. Designed to be watched with an open mind and soul, this piece isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot here that can be frowned upon, but that doesn’t mean gloom is always doom. At a run of an hour and fifteen minutes, ÊXTASE is poetically written and gorgeously executed. Built on power and subtle emotion, this piece sits on a throne of its own. A true marvel among marvels.

Êxtase will be available to stream starting Sunday, March 28 at 12:00pm ET through Friday, April 2 at 12:00pm ET. The film will be followed by a discussion with Filmmaker Moara Passoni led by MoMA Film Curator Josh Siegel.

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© MoMA DocFortnight 2021