Mis Dos Voces (My Two Voices)
Film titles are often ludicrously self-explanatory. Take Paris Hilton’s 2008 cinematic magnum opus, The Hottie and the Nottie: Ms Hilton is the hottie, whose friend is apparently “nottie” a hottie. Yes, it’s a crude example, but when the reason why My Two Voices was given its particular title is explained and contextualised, the choice becomes wonderfully clear: it’s simply a moment when one of the migrants featured in the documentary references her two voices, contrasting her ability to express herself in her native Spanish versus her (at the time) limited English, with even the tone of her voice changing from one language to another. There’s a sense of satisfaction when she talks about how these two voices have progressively aligned, and it’s quite a lovely moment.
Director Lina Rodriguez’s film is a series of voiceovers from three women (two from Columbia and one from Mexico), who migrated to Canada, relating the strangeness and small triumphs of the migrant experience. These voiceovers are layered over seemingly unrelated visuals – sometimes static images, sometimes extreme closeups of hands at work, or hands clasped to a steering wheel as the car drives along the streets of their adopted homeland. It’s reminiscent of a TV interview, where the subject’s anonymity must be preserved, but the women featured in the documentary all make a physical appearance in the closing minutes.
Aside from the fact that the almost exclusively Spanish audio requires English subtitles, the documentary could work equally well on radio, but the detachment of the voices from the visuals strikingly gives greater potency to the stories being told (which was presumably Rodriguez’s plan). The film was recorded on gritty 16mm film stock, although the crispness of a digital screener unfortunately diminishes this stylistic choice.
The chosen subjects relate their stories with great lucidity, and it makes one wonder if multiple subjects were recorded, with those who rambled being discarded in the editing process. The stories, and the catalyst for deciding to migrate, range from the horrifyingly surreal (sheltering at home while Pablo Escobar wages guerilla warfare with local authorities on the streets outside), to the upsettingly familiar (a victim of domestic violence finally having the revelation that she’s entitled to a better life). It’s a succinct approach, leading to a documentary that’s interesting without quite being truly enthralling.
Mis Dos Voces (My Two Voices) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.