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Blossoms of Fire (unrated)
Director: Maureen Gosling & Ellen Osborne
Producer: Maureen Gosling & Ellen Osborne

Rating: out of 5


Ten years in the making, Maureen Gosling’s Blossoms Of Fire is an inspirational documentary portrait of a world shrouded in myth and mystery.

For ages, the Zapotec culture of southern Mexico has been painted in popular literature as a type of matriarchal Shangri-La—populated with gorgeous women who rule over their men, and their society, with a firm hand. Indeed, the women profiled here exhibit a rare strength and confidence—but they aren’t superwomen. They are mothers and wives and daughters who choose to lead, sometimes against overwhelming odds. They aren’t beauties in the classic sense. Except for their brightly colored embroidered skirts they hold a rather plain and natural appearance. What’s special about them is their inner strength and plainspoken attitude. These are women who have thrived on their ability to speak the truth and probably wouldn’t know how to survive otherwise.

The importance of Gosling’s film is that it offers not only a unique perspective of women but of a native people and their developing culture. The Zapotecs have had their struggles (including a longstanding opposition to the Mexican government and a flirtation with revolutionary movements) but overall, these are people filled with goodness, open and free of pre-conceived judgement. For example, many will be surprised at the acceptance and appreciation of gays and lesbians.

Much like last year’s Genghis Blues, this is a small-budget project that succeeds in a number of small and surprising ways. The narration, often delivered in the Zapotec language, with subtitles, blends perfectly with telling images and authentic folk music. Gosling uses these tools and her refined editing talents to create a smooth pace that transports the viewer into the heart of the film and its subject.

Many will hail Blossoms Of Fire as a feminist work, but that would be oversimplification. It is a film that succeeds at documenting the celebration of a gentle and persistent spirit. Like the best documentaries, it informs and entertains in equal measure. We end up learning a little about ourselves along the way.

Ed Scruggs

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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