Hot Docs review: Maxima

Farmer-turned-activist Máxima Acuña takes on a mining corporation in Claudia Sparrow's heartbreaking and infuriating film

MAXIMA (Claudia Sparrow, U.S.). 88 minutes. Rating: NNNN

Farmer and artisan Máxima Acuña didn’t want to become an activist but was made into one after a multi-billion-dollar mining project spearheaded by American Newmont Mining Corporation began terrorizing her family in hopes of scaring them off their land. The pint-sized powerhouse, known for wearing a sombrero nearly as big as she is, is now the corporation’s biggest adversary in an ongoing David and Goliath showdown. The case has garnered international attention, making Máxima a reluctant “Water Is Life” superhero.

Director Sparrow stays unflinchingly focused on the struggle between the two sides, ratcheting up suspense over a tight run time. The film is at times terrifying, heartbreaking and always infuriating – it’s difficult to not leave feeling woke and weary. Will Máxima withstand the fight? And how are each of us complicit in real-life nightmares fed by greed? These questions linger long after the doc is done.

Apr 27, 5:45 pm, Isabel Bader Apr 28, 10:30 am, TIFF 2 May 5, 3:30 pm, Isabel Bader

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