Directors Nicolás van Hemelryck and Clare Weiskopf ask a group of young women to close their eyes and imagine the life story of a fictional classmate named ALIS. Like them, Alis’s story begins on the streets of Bogotá, Colombia where she struggles to survive.
Through this creative act, the young womxn’s voices intertwine and Alis comes to life revealing their past experiences, dreams and sufferings. Over the course of the film, each of the young womxn listen to themselves share the story of Alis. Each of them experience something very personal and intimate which triggers a sort of transformation in each of them.
Beautifully captivating in their own right, each young womxn realizes their own strengths, emotional maturity and most importantly find hope in thinking about the future. The act of storytelling on their part is a catalyst here.
In ALIS, the filmmakers allow these young womxn to empower themselves. The film offers us a chance to empathize with the courage, sensitivity, and strength of these young womxn, while also confronting our own prejudices. It asks us to see beyond the stigma to the possibility of transformation and personal growth regardless of past history.
Each of the young womxn in ALIS are incredibly creative but also quite vulnerable in the stories each creates about this fictional friend/classmate. I was moved to tears on several occasions, but for good reason. It is true that life for young womxn can be traumatic in some case, however, I am incredibly hopeful in their resilience.
I also appreciate the filmmakers wanting to show the young womxn giving themselves a chance, by allowing themselves to dance, to laugh, to be liberated and to have the opportunity to be someone different in the future… and the future presents endless possiblities.
ALIS screens one more time at Hot Docs on Sunday, May 8 at 7:30pm EST.
I leave you with my conversation with onef of the film’s director Nicolás van Hemelryck.