Hot Docs review: Primas

Powerful doc looks at two Argentine cousins who survived nightmarish sexual abuse as children

PRIMAS (Laura Bari, Canada/Argentina). 98 minutes. Rating: NNNN

The latest from Argentine-Canadian documentarian Laura Bari is an artful portrait of cousins Rocio and Aldana – two young women in modern Argentina, each a survivor of nightmarish sexual abuse they experienced as children. Aldana’s scars are primarily psychological, while Rocio bears hers on her body.

Without ever exploiting their pain or their resilience, Bari gives her subjects the space to tell their own stories in the larger context of their own lives, showing us how the cousins have not only survived their traumatic experiences but integrated them into their psyches. There’s some interesting conversation about the new generation of Argentine women being more willing to talk about sexual assault than their mothers and grandmothers, too.

Its final movement takes a wobbly turn to a therapeutic theatre performance, but for the most part Primas is a powerfully simple and quietly devastating testament to its subjects’ strength. It’ll stay with you.

May 2, 8:45 pm, Scotiabank 7 May 4, 6 pm, TIFF 4

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