January 24, 2022 – The Covid pandemic is the biggest news in the world, making it no surprise that documentary filmmakers have made movies about it. The latest one, “The Year of the Everlasting Storm” is a collective effort, featuring segments submitted by different documentarians around the world.
Three of the seven segments focus on how everyday lives of normal people have been disrupted by the pandemic, with segments from the United States, Iran, China, Chile and Thailand. This is similar to another 2021 Covid documentary I saw earlier, “Convergence: Courage in a Crisis,” which looked at health care workers dealing with the pandemic around the world.
The segments that deal with everyday effects of the pandemic are “Life” (Iran) “The Break Away” (China) and “Sin Titulo” (Chile) The other four segments, are far less related to the pandemic, “Little Measures” (U.S.) “Terror Contagion” (U.S.) “Dig Up My Darling” (U.S.) and “Night Colonies” (Thailand).
“Life,” directed by Jafar Panahi, deals with a family and their pet iguana, being visited by a 90-year-old relative who wants to give up her life savings for her family, in case she dies from Covid. “The Break Away,” directed by Anthony Chen, shows a marriage in trouble — troubles made worse by the pandemic. “Sin Titulo,” directed by Dominga Sotomayor, tells a family celebrating the birth of a child, but forced to do it at a distance because of a Covid lockdown.
“Little Measures,” directed by Malik Vitthal tells the story of a man trying to get straight and put his life back together so he can be reunited with his children. The pandemic is making it hard for him to visit his children. “Terror Contagion,” directed by Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”) has to do with an investigation into government use of NSO's, Pegasus spyware to target journalists, activists and protesters in various countries. This segment has little to do with the pandemic.
“Dig Up My Darling,” directed by David Lowery appears to be a fictional account of a woman who finds a relative's letter in a storage unit. The letter includes a map which leads her to an unmarked grave of another relative. This is a strangely moving and haunting story that seems to have very little to do with the pandemic. Parts of it reminded me of “Psycho” (1960).
“Night Colonies,” directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, is a sort of experiment, asking the question, “how many bugs can you attract on a summer night with a lot of florescent light?” The answer is, a lot. The collection of creepy crawlies in this segment seems to have almost nothing to do with the pandemic.
Some of these segments are interesting enough that they could be expanded to make a standalone movie feature. I'd like to think that “Dig Up My Darling” could be made into a haunting saga along the lines of “Paris, Texas” (1984). I like the look of grim determination shown by Catherine Machovsky, who stars in this segment. The “Terror Contagion” raises a lot of issues about state surveillance that could easily be expanded into a feature length documentary.
Overall, the segments range from troubling, to moving, to the macabre. They don't really fit together into a complete package, but there is enough variety in it that most people will be able to find something interesting in at least one of these seven segments. This film rates a C+.
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