Film Review: Night Shot – Visionär Film Festival

Reviewer: Helen Tope

Creator and Director: Carolina Moscoso Briceno

Created by Chilean film-maker Carolina Moscoso Briceno, Night Shot is a documentary looking at the events surrounding a violent assault experienced by Briceno.

Carolina informs us that she was raped on a beach near Santiago after having only met her attacker briefly at a beach party. Eight years later, Briceno decides to revisit the incident, recording responses from her family, friends and her attempts at securing justice.

Night Shot – a composite of video diaries, documentary and abstract footage – is a story, says Briceno, made of three lights. One that blinds, one dimly lit, and a third – darkness – that doesn’t let you see. Carolina recounts her experience, and we then see snippets of film, taken as she travels with her film school. These, she tells us, are the first images she was able to capture, weeks after the attack. With the sounds of waves crashing on a beach playing in the background, Briceno’s footage moves into ‘night shot’ mode. She chooses this “in order to light the darkness”.

Briceno’s examination of the assault is poignant, and at times, hard to watch. She retells her father’s reaction to her rape: it is complex and unexpected. The shocking reality of what Briceno encounters, continues as she seeks medical assistance. Initially refused the morning-after pill, Briceno uses black and white captions to document her interactions with medical and legal institutions. One of Briceno’s friends asks her, as she wields her camera, is she watching or recording? “Recording” is Briceno’s reply.

Night Shot does a superb job of questioning the procedures around reporting rape. Carolina is asked to identify her attacker from a series of photos. She spots him immediately, but when asked to confirm how sure she is, Briceno answers “about 70%”. The law demands absolute clarity; but Briceno’s mind – still numb, still trying to process what has happened – cannot give it.

What starts off as a series of snapshots; moments in place and time, builds into a profound articulation of trauma. Briceno’s handling of her material – from a jolting, jarring aftermath to the most intimate experiences shared with friends and family – is beautifully judged. Briceno’s insistence on leaning into what is happening in her life, in particular the scenes where we see the delivery of her friend’s baby, sees her move from being a film-maker “recording” into a survivor trying to move forward, into whatever space that resembles.

Night Shot has already received numerous awards, and they are all thoroughly deserved. This is a densely layered psychological portrait of how serious crime impacts a life, and each facet covered by Briceno leaves an impression on the audience. What Briceno has pulled together in her editing of the diaries is technically virtuosic, but more than that, Night Shot asks you to get emotionally involved. Intensely personal, and fiercely political, Night Shot may be a film-maker’s tour de force, but the fallout of what is presented, and the questions unresolved, remain with you. As Briceno reiterates throughout the film; trauma is never a straight line.

Night Shot is screening at the Visionär Film Festival, Berlin on 12 and 13 November.

The Reviews Hub Score

A profound articulation of trauma

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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