directed by Niki Padidar
Hot Docs, the Canadian International Documentary Festival, runs from April 27-May 7, 2023. Visit the fest's official site for more details.
by Bill Chambers Iran-born, Netherlands-based director Niki Padidar's All You See isolates its three female interview subjects in small, sparsely-dressed rooms with no fourth wall, shooting them head-on in centre-framed compositions that meet at some nexus of Wes Anderson and Errol Morris. (For her part, Padidar has cited "all Charlie Kaufman films" and Lars von Trier's Dogville as key influences on the picture's design.) From inside these cubicles, the interviewees primarily reflect on how people in their adoptive country of Holland respond to them as immigrants. Consider this staging a kind of lo-fi expressionism, then, manifesting their feelings of being under interrogation while also highlighting their exoticism, which is somewhat invisible outside its cultural context. Or is it? It seems naïve to think this movie is about a xenophobia specific to the Netherlands, no matter the notoriety of Dutch racism (e.g., Zwarte Piet) or how superior the enlightened viewer might feel to these ladies' offscreen tormentors. Beyond its formal daring, the uniqueness of All You See is that it delves into a rarely explored aspect of the immigrant experience likely to resonate with anyone whose conspicuous presence disrupts cultural homogeneity.