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Brazil, United States · 2013
Rated PG-13 · 1h 22m
Director Petra Costa
Starring Li An, Elena Andrade, Petra Costa
Genre Documentary

Elena — who spent her childhood in Brazil hiding from military dictatorship — moves to New York and pursues a lifelong dream shared with her mother: to be a movie actress. Decades later, Elena's sister Petra arrives in New York in search of her estranged sibling with only newspaper clippings and letters to guide her.

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What are critics saying?


Village Voice by Alan Scherstuhl

A pained and gorgeous summoning, Petra Costa's haunted doc Elena dances with death, memory, and family, seducing viewers and then breaking their hearts.


Slant Magazine by Diego Semerene

This is a film about the invisible things passed down from generation to generation, that nasty inheritance that cages us into patterns and puzzles we try to solve in someone else's name.


The Playlist by Katie Walsh

This is avant-garde autobiographical filmmaking at its finest, and the results are stunningly beautiful, and achingly emotional within a lyrical and dreamlike aesthetic.


Los Angeles Times by Sheri Linden

The result is a type of cinematic performance art, with all the self-consciousness that suggests — a sibling love story that's no less heartfelt for being in the form of a first-person poem.


The New York Times by Stephen Holden

With its free-floating imagery, Elena unfolds like a cinematic dream whose central image is water, which symbolizes the washing away of grief. But more than that, it represents the stream of life, with beautiful images of women floating through time.

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