Hot Docs: Dylan/Breath

Dylan

Director: Ania Winiarska

Running Time: 27 Minutes

Recommended? Yes! Especially if you are a metal head

Wearing an oversized army jacket adorned with Megadeath and Slayer patches, Dylan, subject of Ania Winiarska’s Dylan, looks and acts like many characters we’ve already seen on the silver screen. It may be the break neck snippets of heavy metal and shots of Dylan goofing around with his other metal head buddies that gives Dylan a certain FUBAR feel to it, or watching the 15 year old aimlessly wander through Belfast’s exposed brick streets that is playfully reminiscent of a scene from any Jay and Silent Bob film. Still, in a city where people kill for religion, Dylan’s declaration that he wants to stop being a protestant and instead follow the religion of Heavy Metal  sets the cheerful tone of this comical, rambunctious, and incredibly sincere documentary.

Dylan isn’t a boy of many words, but when he’s not busy throwing bricks through windows of dilapidated buildings or chain smoking stolen cigarettes on park benches, Dylan’s often abstract thoughts show that he is at integral stage in his young adult life. Soberly standing alongside older boys as they get drunk on cheap wine and confronted with violence stemming from Protestant and Catholic conflict in Belfast, Dylan only needs to take one wrong turn to become an unfortunate product of his environment. It is Dylan’s undeniable innocence that echoes the loudest in the calamitous and unforgiving world he inhabits.

Breath

Director: Kullar Viimne

Program: Families & Family Relationships

Running Time: 59 Minutes

Recommended? Yes, not strongly

Kullar Vimne’s Breath takes place in Estonia and its direct English translation is Estonia is BreathingBreath follows chimney sweep Frencesko, the only female chimney sweep in Estonia, as she races up and down highways on her way to clean all different kinds of chimneys.  Always clad in her all black chimney sweep uniform, Frencesko looks like an Estonian ninja with her tools strapped to her back as she fearlessly balances unsupported on steep tin roofs. Francesko, always sporting a smile and a cigarette, performs this dangerous task with so much grace that it’s easy to forget that the slightest misstep could cost her life. Estonian women flock touch Francesko’s garments for good luck (an Estonian custom), but their looks of affection and comradery  show that Francesko exists as more than just a chimney sweep, but rather an icon of good will.

Breath isn’t all about Francesko’s work though, as Vimne uses the documentary as a means of exploring the nature of meditation in Estonia, and how people have managed to find spirituality in the least religious state in the world. It is Vimne’s astute eye for contrast that allows Breath to speak volumes, as seeing Francesko in civilian clothes is a shocking reminder that underneath this remarkably respectful and charismatic woman who seems to be forever covered in soot, exists a delicate and even dainty lady. Breath is probably the only crash course you’ll ever get in Zen chimney sweeping.

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